By Jacob Mathias
Wisconsin Rapids author Lisl H. Detlefsen is excited for the upcoming release of her debut children’s book, “Time for Cranberries,” a tale of the cranberry harvest season.
The book, to be released on September 1, follows the adventures of Sam, the 7-year-old son of cranberry farmers, as he is invited to work his first cranberry harvest. Sam learns the process of harvesting cranberries from booming and corralling to picking and cleaning. Sam is hungry to learn about the cranberry’s harvest but more so to eat them.
“I was inspired to write this book from my experiences living on our family’s cranberry marsh and I’m very excited to bring it to readers,” said Detlefsen.
Detlefsen is originally from Janesville and went to art school at UW-Madison but she moved to the Rapids area after she got married. Her husband Robert continues to operate his family’s 140-acre cranberry farm on the Whittlesey marsh. The farm has been in the family since 1871. It has been part of the Ocean Spray family of cranberry farms since 1956 and produces the fruit for juices and sauce.
Prior to meeting her husband, Detlefsen said she’d had virtually no experience with cranberries beyond drinking their juice even though her parents are originally from the Rapids area.
She now lives on the cranberry marsh in Wisconsin Rapids where she works on her writing while watching wildlife stroll through her backyard from her office window.
“It’s like being in a wildlife sanctuary. Deer walk through. Foxes, bunnies, geese and just everything,” she said.
In her free time she continues to read children’s and young adult books, preferring them to the adult literature of today.
Detlefsen grew up reading all the time and has always dreamed of writing children’s books. Her office is filled with children’s books including original stories she wrote in first grade. Growing up, her favorite children’s author was the prolific James Marshall who wrote the “George and Martha” series of books among many others.
“I have nothing else I want to do,” she said. “It’s all I ever wanted to do since I was little.”
Detlefsen has two sons, Jasper, 7, and Wesley, 5. She said her character Sam isn’t based on her son’s but they are bringing the character to life.
“My youngest likes to say he made the book more true,” said Detlefsen. “Sam in the book loves to eat raw cranberries..but Wesley loves to eat them raw too. I couldn’t have based it on him because I didn’t know that when I wrote it. In one of the pivotal moments of the book, Sam falls in. Last year, Wesley fell in.”
The book’s illustrations were done by Jed Henry. Detlefsen said she loved his illustrations but since Henry is from Utah and had no knowledge of cranberries so she had to work
closely with him to make sure all of the nature and machinery were accurate.
“I sent a lot, a lot of photos and videos of our marsh and harvest and then he would sketches,” said Detlefsen. “I was consulted for the art which was unusual…I said please just promise me that the characters will be people. I had nightmares about little pink pigs running around in hip boots.”
“Time for Cranberries” is published by Roaring Book Press, an imprint of Macmillan Publishers that exclusively prints children’s books.
The book has been chosen as a Junior Library Guild selection. The Junior Library Guild is a book review and collection development service that helps school and public libraries acquire the best new children’s and young adult books.
Detlefsen’s next book, “If You had a Jetpack,” is set to be released by Random House in the spring of 2017.
To view the book and meet the author, visit Lisl H. Detlefsen at the McMillan Memorial Library in Wisconsin Rapids from 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM on September 29.