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Husband and wife Ilow and Sheri Roque founded the new children’s publishing company Rock House Press.
BY Eddie O’Neill
Last year, husband and wife Ilow and Sheri Roque
of La Jolla, Calif., started Rock House
Press, a publishing company of
Catholic children’s books.
entrepreneurship developed from observation: The Roques saw a lack of quality
faith-based children’s literature. “I began to look at works of fiction both in
books and other entertainment forms and found that an implicit secularism was
being advocated,” Ilow explains. “There was a complete lack of any faith
elements in these stories.”
they took action.
we decided to do is to acculturate our faith using strong Catholic themes and
images into imaginative works of children’s fiction. We want to make the
Catholic Church present in works of the imagination,” shares Ilow. “We believe
that it is vitally important to have our Catholic Church present in children’s
result is Rock House’s first book, The
Purples Are Coming, which was
released last December.
the couple worked together on the language and the plot of this tale, Sheri
made the story’s characters come to life through her illustrations. Although
she is not an artist by trade, Sheri has always enjoyed being creative.
drawing her first book was much harder than she thought. “Hours and hours are
put into a drawing,” she says. “Then after evaluating whether or not it is good
enough, conveying the emotion I’m going for, I may throw it away and start
language that is poetic and illustrations that are lush and whimsical, the
Roques say that this fun story of spring in the animal kingdom is one
that is meant to be read out loud by kids of all ages.
“I loved creating these little critters, each with their own personality,”
Sheri explains. “I know it sounds cliché, but you really do start thinking of
the animal pals as individuals, calling them by name and wondering what they
will be up to next.”
A number of lessons are included in
the book: We are all children of God, prayer is important, and we are happiest
when we live in fellowship with God and our friends.
Sheri says that all the hard work in
this new publishing endeavor is worth it if their books bring children joy.
Recently, she received a review from a mother of a 3-year-old who insists on
having the book read to her every night. When the mother and her kids were out
at a local nursery, the children saw some purple heather and yelled out, “The
Purples!” The mom ended up bringing the plant home for the family garden.
“It’s stories like that,” says
Sheri, “that warm my heart.”
There has been a lot of talk about
this new children’s title at Our Lady’s Gifts, a small Catholic book and gift
store in San Diego. Manager Mary Ann Gleason remembers well the day The
Purples arrived. She had been promoting the new release via word of
mouth for some time when a young man came into the gift shop asking for the
book. Within minutes, Gleason recalls, a UPS truck pulled up and unloaded a box
of 50 books. The man bought two copies that afternoon.
Already a Hit
Since then, she says, the book has
sold steadily, with about 30 copies the first month. “The book has done well,”
says Gleason. “We’ve been advertising it in a number of nearby parishes.”
Father James Kubicki, national
director of Apostleship of Prayer, has said of the book: “The artwork is
tremendous, and I liked the poetic rendering of the story. I suspect there is a
great need out there for good children’s literature that teaches the virtues,
and I feel so honored to have children introduced to the apostles of prayer in
In a review at RockHousePress.com,
Catholic school teacher Lisa Wolfer said, “My kindergarten students absolutely
love this book. ... It is remarkable to witness these 5- and 6-year-olds use
elements from the story and illustrations to teach each other about their
The book, which received an
imprimatur from Bishop Robert Brom of San Diego, is just the beginning for Rock
House Press. In fact, it is the first in the “Happiness March Adventure”
The next two books, The
Bees Are Missing and The
Brothers Karrynutsoff, are both on the drawing board and due out
within the year.
A number of like-minded artists and
writers are interested in being a part of Rock House Press. While the Roques
are open to bringing them on board, first they want to be established in the
“As a brand-new publishing company,
what we are focused on right now is that the ‘Happiness March Adventure’ series
is well published and has the kind of distribution that we need,” shares
the road, Rock House Press hopes to expand to video games and television.
Ilow, “We’d like to see Rock House Press emerge as a premier source of quality
Catholic content for children.”
Eddie O’Neill writes
from Green Bay, Wisconsin.