Local trio teams up for children’s book about sisterly love and hate 

Sugary Sweet

The bond between sisters is undeniably special, but the first few years of sisterhood can be a little rough. No matter how close they are as adults, most sisters have vivid memories of "the early years," when jealousy and hair-pulling made them wish the other had never been born. The eldest usually has the most difficult time because she can remember the day when her crying, needy, adorable little sister didn't exist. (And yes, I'm speaking from personal experience.)

As big sisters themselves, Megan Waldrep and Melissa Nelson understand the challenges of sisterhood. Inspired by Nelson's two young daughters, the pair decided to write a children's book about the pros and cons of having a little sister.

The authors met when Waldrep, a fashion designer who debuted at Charleston Fashion Week 2008, started babysitting for Nelson's daughters three years ago. The Nelsons quickly became like a second family to Waldrep, and the pair penned the first draft of the book while on a family vacation out West. "When one of us got stuck, the other one helped," says Nelson, who also co-owns Charleston Children's Therapy Company. "It was very organic. It was really fun."

Based almost entirely on their personal experiences, the book takes a playful look at both sides of having a little sister: the bad and the good. "The first half of the book is about how annoying the little sister is, and at the end the little sister sticks up for her big sister and it talks about the benefits and bonuses of having a little sister," Waldrep explains. On the negative side, the sweet-faced little sister (Sugar) is charged with being a nosy crybaby who dominates their mother's attention. "She is looking at me! She is breathing my air! She gets in my space when we go anywhere," the big sister Spice screams from the backseat. But on the good side, Sugar saves them from getting in trouble by being cute, she's great at playing make-believe, and she looks up to her big sister. She's also a bit of a sucker. "I can always convince her to trade her quarters for pennies or take the rest of my dinner," Spice says.

The authors tapped Lisa Perrett, co-owner of Robot Candy Company, to illustrate the book. In addition to doing all of the candy shop's distinctive illustrations and branding, Perrett has done work for American Girl magazine and Mudpuppy Press. The bright, girly illustrations have a fun Powerpuff Girls vibe that young readers will surely love.

Although they're currently shopping around for a publisher, this first effort was self-published using CreateSpace. "You don't get a lot of guidance with self-publishing, so we had to figure out a lot as we went along," Nelson says. "We are extremely more knowledgeable than when we started and we've learned patience because we can't rush anything." The books are for sale at Wonder Works, Southern Belle, Robot Candy, and Amazon.

Nelson and Waldrep already have plans to make the book into a series, with the next two already sketched out. "We're free agents and we're ready to go," Waldrep says. "We're laying down the groundwork, and when it happens, we'll be ready."


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