The Making Of Shady Pines Story Town

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

Don’t you yearn for less chaos and more sanity? How does anyone help a child grow up to be a good person? That’s our mission here in Shady Pines Story Town! Our diverse human and animal neighbors of all ages and backgrounds have one thing in common. They tell stories to inspire children to be of good character. Yep, in Shady Pines it’s cool to be kind.

My hope is 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 to get away from the madness of everyday life. That destination is 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. Who’s bringing news to kids to kids in a way they can understand? We are.

The stories of  a childless couple learning to “parent” a couple of stray critters, became a national award-winning book series. Each Boomer and Halley book is embedded with 4 life lessons.  A perforated 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. 

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 as an anchor, reporter and producer, corporate communications and consulting.

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

Some comments from our customers:

“What a wonderful way to help young children understand the importance of simple, yet very important life lessons. The PAWS approach and the timely themes of these books are right on the mark.” – Alice Forman, elementary school teacher (Response to reading Boomer and Halley – Scavenger Hunt)

I recommend this book as a teaching tool to parents and hope that Ms. McKittrick will now turn her attention to writing one for adults.” – M Andrew Carver, Ph.D., teacher and child psychologist (Response to reading Boomr and Halley – Lost and Found)

“I like the way you include real life issues into this cartoon world. It makes it easy to talk to the kids about difficult topics like this one.” – Carmen (Response to Blog post about the Capitol Riot)

“Shady Pines news always has a way to help kids understand what’s going on. I like that.” – Sandy (Response to Blog post about the Covid vaccine rollout)

“Every time I read one of these posts I want to live in Shady Pines. There’s so much heart and kindness. Thank you. I needed this.” – Barbara (Response to Blog post about Letters to Santa)

“Don’t we wish every community had a goal of kindness and gratitude. Very good.” – Terri (Response to Blog post about a New Approach to 2021)

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.