- Associated Press - Sunday, December 13, 2015

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) - When residents of Tupelo think of their town, a lot of different landmarks probably come to mind. But for Brittany Rogers and Brent Farrar, it was hard to narrow that list of iconic images to just 24.

The duo have completed a new children’s book called, “Goodnight Tupelo” - an homage to the 1947 acclaimed-classic, “Goodnight Moon.”

“In a way, yes - I believe that “Goodnight Moon” started it all, but “Goodnight” city books have become increasingly popular,” Rogers said. “A few years ago, a friend penned “Goodnight Memphis.” My husband and I tossed the idea around a little bit and started naming locations we would use if I did something like that for Tupelo. Once we had over thirty places listed, it kind of dawned on me, why don’t I do something like that?”

With the inception there, Rogers got to work.

“I ran a list - a really long one - of questions past my Memphis friend, and she helped me get started on the publishing side of things,” Rogers said. “So, now I had the business side of things down, an idea of the Tupelo hotspots I wanted to use and the pages I thought went best together based on the rhymes. The only thing left to do was find an artist to paint these places. I started looking for a great local artist to create the images I had in my head for the book. I started Googling and Facebook searching anything I could think of relating to artists in Tupelo. Of all the results I found, the artist either wasn’t from Tupelo or their painting aesthetic wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.”

Enter watercolor artist, Brent Farrar.

“I looked him up the next day and emailed him, hoping for a positive response,” she said. “He responded, and we got together that same week and started discussing the book. He was just as enthusiastic about this project as I was, which made the decision to contact him rewarding.”

Farrar’s art is no stranger to the look of Tupelo and Mississippi. He painted the 2012 and 2013 Tupelo Elvis Festival posters, as well as this year’s Mississippi Picnic in the Park poster for the annual event in New York City’s Central Park. His art makes up 24 full-page images of the 32-page book.

“Once I narrowed it down to the 24 locations I wanted - rhymes and all - I collaborated with Brent to figure out what picture would best describe each place,” she said.

“She knew she wanted locations that were landmarks and sentimental to people, as well as popular for the city,” Farrar said. “Some of the images I had were obviously new images - like Fairpark and the new Elvis statue at the Birthplace and a few that I had never painted. Some were redone that I had done before, like the Birthplace and Johnny’s Drive Inn. I wanted all the new images to be done at the same time so they had the same feel and the same look. It ended up being 24 new images and sights of Tupelo. I ended up with about six weeks’ worth of actual painting time, eight hours a day. I grossly miss-shot how long it was going to take. I did it on nights and weekends. I was probably not much fun to be around for those six weeks.”

The two have been hard at work on the publication since April - hoping to release it in time for the holidays.

“The book is currently available for preorder through Reed’s,” Rogers said. “It will be exclusively available at Reed’s book store on Dec. 22, where Brent and I will be signing them throughout the day; so, we encourage anyone looking for a great last-minute Christmas gift to come by. I’m very grateful that Reed’s is doing so much to promote our book and our great city.”

After its initial run at Reed’s, Rogers will open up the book to other local stores who wish to sell it.

“I didn’t do the book to make bundles of money,” Rogers said, “but I was always planning on selling it. I wanted as many people as possible to have another reason to spend time with their little ones and share our city’s rich landmarks in a unique way with their children. It’s rewarding that this project, which we have been working on for almost a year, is finally coming to fruition. I hope our readers, both big and small, will have as much fun with the book as we had creating it.”


Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, https://djournal.com

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