SOUTH SALEM, N.Y. – When Christina Geist’s kids were entering kindergarten, she searched far and wide for children’s books that portrayed starting school as a positive experience.
Instead, the South Salem resident mostly found books that followed “Three S” storylines.
“Shy, sad, or scared,” Geist said.
The children in these books all exhibited some sort of anxiety about going to school.
What she was looking for didn’t seem to exist. So, she wrote it herself.
Her second children’s book—“Sorry, Grown-Ups, You Can’t Go to School!”—was released on Tuesday, July 16, through Penguin Random House.
Both literally and figuratively, the book, which features a cartwheeling grandma, “turns the traditional back-to-school story upside down a little bit,” Geist said.
The story is Geist’s second that features siblings named Lady and Buddy, the first being “Buddy’s Bedtime Battery,” which was released in 2016.
As Lady and Buddy are getting ready for school, “all the grown-ups in their life, including their dog, Bow Wow, are desperately trying to join them,” Geist said.
But the kids are having none of it, forbidding the adults from coming to school.
“It puts grown-ups in situations where they don’t belong,” Geist said. “It puts the kids in a position of authority and in a position of power.”
At one point, a student tells a dejected parent, “We’re sorry. It’s just the way it is. Some things are for you and some things are for us. It’s just the way it is.”
“That’s typical language that comes out of an adult’s mouth,” Geist said.
The newly released picture book, illustrated by Tim Bowers, has hit No. 4 on The New York Times “Best Sellers” list. It is geared for children ages 3-7.
On Aug. 10, Geist performed a reading of her book at the Lewisboro Library (15 Main St., South Salem). After the reading, kids were treated to ice cream.
“My favorite part of doing what I do is sitting with kids on the cozy carpet and sharing a great story,” Geist said. “Nothing makes me happier than being able to do that. I love to tell them how the books are made and share that process with them.”
Geist, whose husband, Willie, is a host on NBC and MSNBC, said this story is one of many she wrote several years ago while taking a four-year hiatus from work to raise her kids. She has held news producing, public relations, marketing, branding, and design strategy positions.
“I’ve always been a creative writer,” Geist said. “I was just a creative writer in a more-corporate environment. When I took four years off from corporate America to be home with my kids, that creative energy just sort of needed to go somewhere. These stories just naturally started to dance around in my head.”
Geist said it was a “long road” to get the stories from her head into book form. But, ultimately, it came from a result of “knocking on any door I could knock on.”
“It was an interesting moment in my life where right around my 40th birthday I sold my first manuscript to Random House and decided to launch two businesses,” Geist said.
Those two businesses are True Geist, a boutique brand strategy and design firm, and Boombox, an online boutique for personalized memory boxes. At the heart of each of her three jobs, she said, is storytelling.
“Every day is different. Every day is creative. And every day is certainly very busy,” Geist said.