Jennifer and Kyle Solak grew up in New Orleans, and like most folks from the Big Easy, they loved their hometown. After Hurricane Katrina hit, they relocated to Houston. When their new baby Garrett was born in Houston, they wanted for him to love his hometown as much as they had, so they looked around for a picture book that would introduce him to all the local sights. They didn't find one.
"It's kinda interesting that our baby's gonna grow up where we didn't," says Kyle Solak, "but we want him to have the same kind of connection we did. We wanted our baby to fall in love with his hometown. There wasn't a book to introduce him to all the spots that he's gonna know as he grows up, so we wrote one for him."
"There's the children's classic Goodnight Moon, that everybody loves," Jennifer Solak adds. "And we've seen some Goodnight books for other cities. After we saw some of those, since Garrett's a Houston baby, we wanted to get him a Houston book. There are so many unique and wonderful aspects to this city, we just wanted to give that to the kids growing up here."
Goodnight Houston is a picture book, in the truest sense. All of the images are photographs that have been manipulated to look like drawings or watercolors. The couple went around town and shot some photos themselves. They visited Flickr and stock photo websites for the rest. Bill Olive, a local photographer, contributed the book's cover image, a shot of the nighttime skyline complete with a spinning Ferris wheel at the Aquarium.
The book features popular locations such as the Children's Museum of Houston, the Houston Zoo and Buffalo Bayou. They also included symbols of Houston, such as tacos, barbeque and Shipley's Doughnuts. "We picked things we thought kids are going to be interested in, primarily," Kyle says. "We picked stuff they like and will recognize."
So what's up with the Astros? Professional sports aren't usually too interesting to toddlers.
"Ah, we're working on that," laughs Kyle. "We just want to start him young."
The couple has been making the publicity rounds, including readings at local bookstores. They say that's been an unexpected treat. "When kids recognize something, they really get this light in their eyes like, 'I've been there!' They get real excited," says Jennifer. "And whenever we turn to the Shipley's Doughnut page, it just brings a smile to everyone's face."
"We just can't wait to see that reaction with Garrett," adds Kyle. "That will be great."
To order your copy of Goodnight Houston or find an upcoming reading by Jennifer and Klye Solak, visit www.goodnighthouston.com.