Johnathan and Alison Edmonds were the proud parents of a baby girl when they began searching for children's books to give her for Christmas last year.
Johnathan Edmonds, a 16-year veteran of the military whose grandfather and father also served, wondered if there were any children's books about the military and started looking around. Edmonds had enlisted in the Navy. He now is an Air Force officer, serving out of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base as a KC-135 pilot.
But the only books that Edmonds could find were books for kids about deployment. They took on a more serious tone than what he was looking for.
"I wanted something that was a positive light for the military and they just weren't out there," he tells me.
So Edmonds figured he could do it himself. The result is Service Pals, a series of children's books that tells the story about the different branches of the military and the vehicles each uses. Edmonds came up with the stories and wrote them down. Alison Edmonds edited the books. The publisher, Mascot Books, identified illustrator Adam Schartup, who is behind the colorful illustrations. Air Force pilot, Cary dad launches Service Pals children's book series
The stories follow characters such as Sneaky Sammy Sub, Antsy Archie Apache, Totin' Tony Tanker (the same plane Edmonds flies), Hardy Hannah Hawk and Wiley Wendy Wrecker as they go on various adventures or solve different problems. Think of it sort of as a cross between the "Cars" movies and Thomas the Tank Engine.
The first book about the Air Force came out in January, five months after Edmonds came up with the idea for the series. The books about the Marines, Army and Navy followed soon after.
At the back of each book are descriptions of the different vehicles. Hardy Hannah Hawk, for instance, is a "medium helicopter with one main rotor. She patrols the skies and serves transport troops," the book says. Thundering Theo Thunderbolt is an A-10 Thunderbolt. The book describes him as "very sturdy and maneuverable."
These are fun, happy books with friendly characters who work hard to help each other. There is no mention of combat or war or violence.
"We wanted to keep it lighthearted because we want it to be for everyone," Edmonds said. He hopes all children will find something to love about the series whether they have a relative in the service or not.
Edmonds has plans for more books, including one about the Coast Guard soon. And he has sequels in mind too.
"I have more ideas for each of the characters, more ideas for each service," said Edmonds, who calls his characters the sidekicks of America's heroes.
"The heroes are definitely the people who serve," he said.
We usually feature local moms on Mondays. In June, in honor of Father's Day, we're focusing on local dads.