The Making Of Shady Pines Story Town

 Mary Jane McKittrick, Founder of Shady Pines Story Town & Author of the Boomer and Halley books

Most people I meet these days yearn for less chaos and more sanity. So, with all the noise, what do you do when you want your child to grow up to be a good person? You can join this delightful online community, Shady Pines Story Town! It’s filled with a diverse group of human and animal characters of all ages and backgrounds. These characters are on a mission to inspire children to be of good character. Yep, in Shady Pines it’s cool to be kind.

My mission is to grow this membership-based site. Ultimately, I’d like to see animated Shady Pines stories inspire generations of Americans to be kinder and more tolerant of one another. This message is not only relevant for our times, it’s essential.

Everyone needs a place to get away from the madness of everyday life, so I invented the small Southern town of Shady Pines. Unlike other childrens’ sites, our Shady Pines Gazette news team reports what’s going on in the “Real World,” and translates it to our “Imaginary” world. Adults use our characters to talk to kids about current events in real time. Where else can they go to explain school closings, the pandemic, natural disasters or the otigins of a national holiday? Who’s bringing news to kids to kids in a way they can understand? We are.

The inspiration for this came from working as a television news anchor, rerporter and producer. I covered a lot of troubling stories. But, when I was sent to a children’s hospital and saw kids bravely battling life-threatening diseases, it crushed me. How could I use my love of animals, storytelling, and wacky humor to bring some light and hope to those kids and the adults who love them?

The stories I wrote became a national award-winning book series. Each Boomer and Halley book is embedded with 4 life lessons.  A preforated bookmark with prompting questions allows the adult reading with the 4-8 year old child to know if the child understands Honesty, Manners, Respecting Property, Sportsmanship, and so on. You can order a book HERE.

As the number of characters and locations around Shady Pines increased with each book, I broadened my website platform to Shady Pines Story Town. In addition to the books, we offer a Blog, online stories, coloring pages, contests and other offline activities.  As for my background, I am a native of Los Angeles, California whose career spanned television entertainment, TV broadcast news, corporate communications and consulting. 

Click the button below to learn more about the inspiration for Mary Jane’s delightful characters!

Bob Ostrom, Illustrator & Art Director

The overall look of Shady Pines harkens back to a bygone era. Colorful cartoon characters come to life due to the expertise of illustrator, Bob Ostrom. 

Based in North Carolina, Mr. Ostrom has been illustrating children’s books for more than 25 years. He is a nationally known talent with credits that include Little Mermaid, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Rug Rats, and many more. 

Bob has worked for such noteworthy companies as Walt Disney, Warner Brothers, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network.

He and Mary Jane first worked together on the Boomer and Halley book series which won the Mom’s Choice Gold Award and the Pinnacle Book Award. The nostalgic imagery they concocted for the Shady Pines™ Story Town Project was developed with the intention of keeping with the feel of a safe, small Southern town. The 2-D animation style illustrations make it possible to convey the project’s illustrations on various platforms. 

To learn more about how Mary Jane and Bob work together to create Shady Pines Story Town, click the button below.

Boomer and Halley Books

Each Boomer and Halley book has 4 life lessons embedded in the story line and highlighted on the page with a PAW mark. Using the perforated bookmark with prompting questions you can find out if your young reader (4-8 yrs ol) understands concepts like: Sportsmanship, Honesty, Manners, Respecting Property, Tolerance, Kindness, and so on.