Meet the Phoenix Librarian Who Won the Children’s Book Contest With “Up Up Up” on Nov. 19

  • Author’s story Phoenix was selected from 250 entries
  • A book signing is Nov. 19 at Changing Hands in Tempe

Being a mother of three boys, a Phoenix school librarian, and pursuing a side job writing children’s books just didn’t work. Not when Phoebe Fox, 39, yearned to put more of her words into the world.

She had taken the laborious and sometimes expensive route of self-publishing a book, which also required her to connect with illustrators and graphic designers, and to market her books in the real world, on his website and Social Media.

With the support of her husband, Michael, owner of a backyard basketball court business Sport Court Corporate, Fox quit a job she loved – a 20-year career as a librarian and educator, most recently at Christ Church School in Paradise Valley. Her hope was that the universe would send her a sign that she had made the right decision to do what she loved.

“I took a big risk, but I had to achieve my dream,” Fox said.

The sign came 16 months later. “Up Up Up” was chosen from more than 250 anonymous manuscripts from across the country as the first book published by Southwest Human Development. The book, which came out this summer, follows 10 animals in an elevator to a party when something unexpected takes them on a detour.

Phoebe Fox, author of "Top Top top" will read and sign the work for children 3 and under at 10 a.m. Nov. 19 at Changing Hands, 6428 S McClintock Dr, Tempe.

“It was truly one of the best days of my life,” she said. “Validation. That’s exactly how I thought of it.”

The fox will be sign and read “Up Up Up” at 10 a.m. on Saturday, November 19 at the Tempe Changing Hands location. The book is intended for children from 0 to 3 years old.

South West Human Development is a Phoenix nonprofit that focuses on literacy programs for children ages 5 and under and their families. With children’s literacy as its main mission, the organization decided to launch The project of the first edition, a competition and its first foray into publishing children’s literature last year. The mission, even after 35 years of donating hundreds of thousands of pounds to pediatric practices, low-income homes and community centres, has proven more difficult than its leaders anticipated.

Still, Jake Adams, director of development, said the effort paid off as “many have gotten involved in the work we do, volunteering, joining our Champions of Books for Babies membership group, helping with book drives and in many other ways too. .

“It also raised more awareness about early literacy, including the importance of parents reading to their young child for at least 20 minutes a day.”

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Fox also had growing pains.

“How can I say that? I think it was my first experience of taking something I had written and offering it to meet the publisher’s needs. It was a challenge, that’s for sure. . But I learned a lot.”

Southwest Human Development took Fox’s words and paired them with the Phoenix artist’s lively and fun illustrations Michael Hale. Hale is the former creative director of the Phoenix Zoo, where he helped illustrate and design exhibits and a playground and manage and produce ZooLights. While every child draws, Hale continued whatever his work and began focusing on children’s illustrations in 2000.

Michael Hale, former creative director of the Phoenix Zoo, illustrated, "High High high."

Fox and Hale only met when Southwest Human Development hosted a kickoff luncheon. They were surprised to learn that they lived just down the street from each other.

Both creators hope “Up Up Up” will lead to more published works in children’s literature.

“Picture books are really evolving,” Hale said. “That’s mostly what I do. … But now a lot of these picture books carry on through the older years and a lot of them are very, very good.”

Fox has been writing children’s books for 15 years, telling entire stories in his smartphone and then revising them over and over again. Her writing time is usually after her sons, ages 7, 9 and 12, are in bed. Writing for such a young audience, she chooses words that sound like the object or action they represent.

For other writers hoping to leap into the unknown and commit to their work, she has this advice: “Write about what you love and put your heart into it.”

The book is available at Fox’s website, Southwest Development First Edition website, Change hands. With every purchase, Southwest Human Development will donate a book to a child in need.

The agency is in the process of selecting its second winner for a children’s book author. Submissions were expanded for work targeting 0-3 year olds to 0-5 year olds.

If you are going to

What: Phoebe Fox, author of Phoenix, reads and signs her children’s book “Up Up Up”.

When: 10 a.m. on Saturday, November 19.

Or: Changing hands Tempe, 6428 S. McClintock Dr., Tempe.

Admission: Free event; the book costs $13.99

Details: 480-730-0205,

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