WHIPPANY, N.J. - The evening tranquility that should be bedtime is shattered by children all over the world, terrified of unseen monsters hiding in their closets, under their beds and in the dark corners of their bedrooms. It’s a universal problem for parents who struggle to find a simple plan to end this fearful event that happens night after night.
Two sisters from New Jersey with completely different life skills worked together to find a practical, quick fix to end this monster nightmare. The learning experiences they encountered along the way to solving this problem brought joy to their lives with the strength they found in each other along their journey.
Angela Tessmer, from Whippany, NJ, has dedicated the last 22 years of her life building AGT Battery Supply, a multi-million dollar business. Day after day she packed boxes of batteries to ship to Fortune 500 companies, government and commercial customers all over the country while dreaming of writing a book that would help people in some big way.
Her sister, Donna Bauer, has dedicated her last 22 years to teaching middle school and elementary school children. She turned her warm parenting skills into a successful teaching career giving simple advice to parents on how to solve issues. She was a voracious reader but never giving a thought to writing a book.
Donna had listened to Angela talk for years about writing a parenting book but that was something she had no interest in doing. That was until she had a monster problem in her own house and she was desperate to solve the dilemma, eventually coming up with a simple solution.
Donna’s 5 year old daughter Kristin was afraid of a monster in her closet. Donna had tried everything to get rid of the monster, using “Monster” sprays and sprinkles, fairy dust and other tricks that never worked.
Then one night Donna acknowledged the monster existed and told her daughter the monster was actually more afraid of Kristin because he was away from his family. Recognition of the monster made him real, realizing the monster just needed to go home where he would be safe.
Donna and her daughter decorated a box and put the transport box in the closet where the monster lived. The next morning Donna put the box with the monster in the trunk of her car and took him back to his home safely. The monster never reappeared.
Donna and Angela turned this practical solution into their award winning book, “Along Came a Monster” together with the Magical Monster’s Transport Box (MTB) to carry each child’s own monster home. The illustrations in the book were featured in the prestigious Bologna Italy Book Fair and the book won the prestigious 2018 Mom’s Choice Award for their first-time effort.
The journey from concept to publication would take Angela and Donna four and a half years, something the two sisters never anticipated. The project from start to finish would try their patience, but using their multiple life skills and relying on the strength of the lessons they had learned from their loving upbringing saw them through to the publication of “Along Came a Monster” and the successful manufacturing of the Magical Monster’s Transport Box.
“There were lots of obstacles along the way, which is to be expected,” Donna said. “I think the most difficult part was the learning curve at each step, from writing to publishing to marketing. Yet, there is no better feeling in the world to know that you jumped the hurdle and learned something while doing it.”
“We never thought it would take this long, but it was much more than we had expected,” Angela said. “It’s like building a house. You have the plans. You’re not quite sure the plans will work out because you’ve never done it before.”
“Not only did we write a book,” Angela said. “We had to design a monster kit. We had to worry about packaging, we had to worry about child testing our product and we had no resources we could automatically go to.”
“I would say I’m a pretty patient person,” Donna said. “Angela, not as much. But, we complement each other this way. I help her to give situations time and she nudges me if I’m overly patient.”
Angela points out that there wasn’t a lot of willingness to help when they tried to reach out for some mentorship, which was very disappointing. Along the way they learned and did their own research into book publication and product development. They relied heavily on one another.
“Donna and I are very good for each other,” Angela said. “What I have she’s lacking in and what she has, I’m lacking in, so together make the perfect combination. We made this project and dream a reality.”
The secret to the success of the book was simple. The child who reads “Along Came a Monster” realizes the monster is more afraid him or her than they are of the monster. The monster is lost and scared as a result of being away from their family and the child goes into rescue mode.
“The child relates to the need to get their monster back home where they feel safe and secure,” Angela said. “The child personalizes their MTB and places it where the monster is hiding.”
The next morning, the child can place the window sticker included in the MTB on the parent’s car to let the monster’s mom know he or she is in the car. The monster is soon on his or her way back home to their family.
“The amazing thing is fear turns into friendship and the household can go back to getting a good night sleep,” Angela said.
“So it’s a win-win for all,” Donna said.
Seeing that the story through to a successful ending in a positive outcome is something the two sisters learned from their father while growing up. Angela and Donnas’ father was the most important person in their lives who defined them while growing up, giving them confidence to successfully complete this project from start to finish without giving up.
“Every single day our father would say to us ‘You can do anything you want in life,’”
Angela said, “Our father would say ‘There are no obstacles too great for you to overcome.’ ‘Just go out and do it.’”
“When you hear that every single day of your life, from the time you’re as little as you can remember that just becomes a part of who you are,” Angela said.
“Both of our parents had the best way of looking at life,” Donna said." They convinced us that we could do anything we put our mind to. That influenced the way we looked at life.”
Not only were Angela and Donna surrounded by supportive parents, they both had lifelong friends who gave them the power to see their booking writing project from start to publication.
Rose Hepworth, from East Hanover, has been a friend of Angela’s for decades. She said she watched from the very beginning of the project through the end.
“Watching Angela go through this process was nothing less than inspirational,” Hepworth said. “No matter how difficult times got, she put her head down and plowed forward. Her tenacity for perfection shows in the final product.”
Marilynn Barone, from Stewartsville, has been in Donna’s special circle of friends, someone who was there for her when the project was not moving along as quickly as expected.
“Donna’s attention to detail and perfectionism were challenged by external influences,” Barone said. “She wanted to maintain the integrity of her story but she had to concede to the recommendations of professionals. Even when she had to listen to constructive criticism, she was personable, kind and thoughtful.”
The end result of all this hard work and dedication is “Along Came a Monster,” the successful, award winning book that is now being featured in 3 separate New Jersey schools for Literacy Week 2019.
After the recent success of their book and the possibility they will receive more awards for “Along Came a Monster” in 2019, Donna and Angela admit they will be collaborating on another book project in the future.
“After having been through 4 years of the ups and downs of this entire project, I think I have some insight into what success really is,” Angela said. “I think people have a hard time figuring out what their dream is, and I understand that difficulty, but once Donna and I put our mind to this project, we fulfilled our dream. We just did whatever it took to finish the book.”
Angela said “We have helped children lose their childhood fear of monsters, and that is the most gratifying part of this whole thing.”