Julia and Nancy Glen grew up in Tacoma. Now, the sisters have captured their love for the city in a new illustrated children’s book, "Tacoma Adventures."
The story centers on a raccoon named Stuart, who is assigned a school report about his hometown of Tacoma. He looks enviously at his cousin Jimmy, who gets to report on the state capital of Olympia, and his friend Adrianna, who gets to write about the state’s biggest metropolis, Seattle.
Nancy, who works as a librarian at Emerald Ridge High School in Puyallup, said Stuart is not thrilled about his assignment.
“He’s like, 'Oh my god, Tacoma, that’s boring. We live here. Everybody knows about Tacoma,’” she said. “Well, he didn’t.”
So his grandpa sets out to dispel Stuart’s preconceptions. They set out on a weekend tour of the city’s sights, stopping for meals at iconic Tacoma eateries such as Frisko Freeze, where they eat onion rings and get chocolate shakes, and Knapp’s in the Proctor District, where Stuart and his cousin get stacks of pancakes loaded with strawberries and whipped cream.
They check out Mustangs at LeMay – America’s Car Museum. They visit the bronze sculpture of E.T. the walrus at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. Stuart’s grandpa fills them in on important Tacoma history, including that the city beat Seattle to be the terminus of the transcontinental railroad in 1873. And they take in the city’s beauty – from views of Mount Rainier to the ferries gliding across Puget Sound.
“When he went with his grandfather and toured Tacoma, he saw all the cool places and what it has to offer and the history behind it, and a light went on, 'Aha – this is a cool city. It’s amazing and it’s beautiful,’” Nancy said.
Julia Glen, who lives in Southern California, had the original idea for the books and does the watercolor illustrations. Before the Tacoma book, she and Nancy already had published books about three California communities: Oceanside, Encinitas and Carlsbad. They name the animal characters after family and friends (Stuart the raccoon is named after Nancy’s son).
The books are self-published and are sold locally, which was a conscious decision, Julia said. Some of the places highlighted in the book are now selling copies of it.
“We wanted it to benefit the community,” she said. “When people go to purchase the book, they learn more about the business that they bought it from, as well.”
The sisters are planning to do children's books about Puyallup and Olympia next. And they said they're donating part of the proceeds to local literacy programs.