Charlevoix author and artist team up for a children’s book on Earl Young

CHARLEVOIX – A love for writing children’s books coupled with a shared love of Northern Michigan and Charlevoix has brought two creatives together to create a new children’s book.

The book – titled “Mushroom House Man: The Story of Earl A. Young and His Cottages of Stone” – is an illustrated children’s book that shows and talks about Charlevoix and its set of unique Young-built homes nestled along the shores of Lake Michigan. .

Alice McGinty, the book’s author, currently resides in Illinois but first found her way to Charlevoix after meeting her significant other a few years ago. She immediately fell in love with the quaint town, especially after seeing Young’s architectural accomplishments.

“He showed me the mushroom houses that Young had built and I was fascinated by them, their playfulness and whimsy,” she said.

“We then ate at the Weathervane where I saw the fireplace with the big rock and the talking sign of Earl Young. I really thought it would appeal to the kids with his creativity and drive to bring his ideas to life.”

One of the inside pages of McGinty's book.

So McGinty got to work and began writing what would become her new book. However, she needed an illustrator and it was only by chance that she found the perfect one while kayaking in the area.

“I publish with Mission Point, and with them you find your own illustrator,” McGinty explained.

“We had been out kayaking and happened to meet Sharon Smithem. I had mentioned the book to her and she was so excited because she is an illustrator. showed off his works and really blew me away with his skills and versatility,” she said.

Smithem itself has a long history and artistic career. She painted numerous murals throughout the state, including some in high schools, fire stations, and coffeehouses.

Read more:Artist Profile: Sharon Smithem

She has also worked in many different mediums including ceramics, painting and more.

“I had started illustrating books myself but never finished but after meeting Alice and researching who she was I was so happy we found each other and of course I said I I would love to do that. It’s a dream of mine to illustrate a book,” Smithem said.

“This will be my first book that I have illustrated to the end and I hope there will be many more,” she said.

The book as a whole takes a historical approach to Earl Young and the construction of the various mushroom houses and chimneys he built with illustrations showing each step of the process.

One of the inside pages of McGinty's book.

McGinty’s “Mushroom House Man: The Story of Earl A. Young and His Cottages of Stone” is set for release on Thursday, July 7 with an official release date of Saturday, July 16. From now on, Round Lakes Book Store in Charlevoix and McLean and Eakin in Petoskey will have the book for purchase.

McLean and Eakin also offers a pre-order option for those interested. Pre-orders can be purchased at More information about McGinty and her work can also be found on her website at

Contact reporter Sean Miller at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter, @seanmillerpnrand Instagram, @sean_everest.