It’s been said children change people’s lives. For one grandma, her grandchildren did just that.
Sharon Schaneman, 61, of Scottsbluff found inspiration from a grandma night three years ago to write a multi-chapter book featuring characters inspired by her grandchildren. "The Prince and Friends" began one night when her grandsons would not go to sleep.
“When I would put them to bed at night I would usually just sing them a song, and one night, the two youngest boys started sleeping together in one bedroom, and they wouldn’t go to sleep,” she said. “I blurted stuff out like ‘Lollipops in the castle and this prince lived in the castle, and he found this friend named George.’”
From that night on, every time her grandchildren spent the night at grandma’s house, Schaneman had to tell them what happened next in what they called the “George story.”
“George is one of the main characters I made in the book,” Schaneman said. “So every week, they’d want to hear more of the George story.
“It’s basically a story about this prince who ventures outside of the castle and he meets all kinds of friends. Each character in the book, aside from George, is the grandkids.”
She created the characters with personalities and appearances similar to each grandchild: Aly Lease is Cindy, Quinten Eskam is the prince, Vivian Bauer is princess Pamalea, Tate Schaneman is Master LoLo and Collin Schaneman is Fred the King Frog.
“God gives each of us gifts,” she said. “Each of the characters in the book has their gift. I feel like that was a gift I could use.
“For me, I felt like it was important that each grandchild knew what I thought their gift was and how they make me and other people feel,” she said.
In the process of sharing the story, Schaneman’s father-in-law died, and she became torn about if and how to incorporate death.
“I incorporated a little bit about death in the book because it’s just the way the book went,” she said. “I prayed about this and thought, ‘How do I incorporate that?’”
Schaneman wrote a song titled “Don’t Leave Me” to help the grandchildren understand where their papa went, but the song has not been formally produced yet. She came up with the song title after hearing her grandson Collin say “Don’t leave me” when he was dropped off at Sunday school.
“We don’t want our loved ones to leave us, but that’s OK because we move forward, and we will always have our memories,” she said.
Once she finished telling the story, she decided to write it and get it published through Christian Family Publishing. She worked with the publishing company during her free time because she was still employed full time as a nurse at Regional West. She retired May 7, after being a nurse for 40 years.
“I just decided it was time to spend my time with my family and dabble into this book writing a little bit,” Schaneman said. “It involves them and it makes it fun because the time I spend writing is time I still spend with them.”
The book published in March, and she had the opportunity to share the book with her grandchildren. They began flipping through the pages and noticed the illustrations resembled each of them.
“These kids were only 3 and 4 and 7 and 8 years old, so I tried to allude to that fact that it was them,” she said. “It wasn’t until the book was published and I asked, ‘Who does this look like?’ and they said, ‘Me.’
“It’s been a fun project and adventure for me and my grandchildren,” she said.
"The Prince and Friends" features multiple adventures in the chapter book, with the connection between each mini adventure made clear at the end.
The book is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
A sequel, “The Prince and the Barn Animals,” is in the works to bring the story together, Schaneman said. She hopes to have the book available later this year.
“I felt like I needed to incorporate a little bit more of children’s emotions in the second book, and how my grandson dealt with having a bad day with me,” she said. “He always wanted to have special juice, and we would sit down and have non-alcoholic grape juice that comes in a fancy bottle and talk.”
Schaneman said she felt the second book completed the story.
As these stories are shared with children across the country, Schaneman hopes the books are something special her grandchildren can hold onto as a memory of grandma.