- Beacon and the Recipe Bamboozle: Available on Amazon now :)
- Beacon (unicorn) and Bot (sidekick) are good hackers. When someone steals a secret cupcake recipe from their favorite bakery, the duo decides to help the baker get the recipe back.
- All launch proceeds going to charity to support Rural Tech Fund (@RuralTechFund & WWW)
Why a kid's book?
I have two little girls (maybe one-day future digital warriors;) and I read A LOT of books to them. I was searching for fun picture books that could lightly introduce them to cybersecurity topics and thinking about the digital world they will inherit. I also personally wanted them to relate to Daddy's job in cybersecurity. As my 4 year old described my job to someone recently, "He types on a computer and eats snacks all day." The thought of sitting with them reading a fun cybersecurity caper before bed, then looking at me affirming that is Daddy's job, had me hooked.
**Actual imitation by my daughter of me working :)
I scoured Amazon and the local bookstores for weeks, and honestly could not find any that touched on current topics, such as daily E-Crime & APT readings. Cybersecurity can be a pretty dull topic and so it would also need an imaginative world built around it. Lastly, I also needed it to be as accurate as could be portrayed to a 4-6yr old so they could take foundational lessons from the story.
The idea for this kid's book started two years ago and has been reworked multiple times. Below you can see the evolution that has taken place to eventually reach the Beacon and Bot characters. I first started working with an illustrator on Fiverr, Luana de Souza Sinclair, after stumbling across some of her amazing illustration work (please go hire her). The original concept was to model the main characters after my daughters, but it became apparent early on that this limited the backgrounds of kids I wanted this story to reach. The idea for a unicorn character began taking shape as a better protagonist for the story. The illustrator and I went back and forth over many iterations before the finalized form of Beacon and Bot were born. It also doesn't hurt the creative process that my oldest daughter wears an actual unicorn costume nearly once a week ;)
The story of Beacon and Bot is framed inside the fictional world of Arpa (a nod to the orignal ARPANET). Many factions of animals inhabitat this land, with a neutral territory called "New Plains," where Beacon lives, and our story begins. These animal factions, like stories from the real world, get involved in all sorts of cyber-related hijinks. The hope is that these animal factions can make the telling of the story more imaginative, while bringing some sense of realism to events our kids may face in the future.
One of the hardest parts of writing this story was attempting to make the digital artifacts and scenario's as accurate as possible without exceeding children's grasp. There were several concesssions made, such as the stolen cupcake recipe and how it was "stolen." Obviously if it's a digital file it can easily be copied, rather than physically stolen, but that's a pretty foreign concept to a 4-6 year old child. So I let the recipe be physically stolen, as opposed to copied, making the story less convoluted as to the retrieval of the secret digital recipe. The important bits of conducting forensics on a computer and making correlations between evidence (indicators) still remains, and I hope it builds children's foundations.
Where to learn?
My wife suffered through many months of my obsessing over children's picture book design. I bought countless picture books, which I justified in our budget as "research," ;) but learned many valuable lessons. I see that I still have a very long way to go in order to become a children's picture book afficiando. Even as I look at the final copy, I'd do many things differently now, given more time. If you want to jump start creating your own picture book adventure, I highly recommend the following resources:
International Listings on Amazon:
Beacon and the Recipe Bamboozle international? Check following Amazon markets:
- US - https://amazon.com/dp/B0B2TVLWWD
- UK - https://amazon.co.uk/dp/B0B2TVLWWD
- Germany - https://amazon.de/dp/B0B2TVLWWD
- France - https://amazon.fr/dp/B0B2TVLWWD
- Spain - https://amazon.es/dp/B0B2TVLWWD
- Italy - https://amazon.it/dp/B0B2TVLWWD
- Japan - https://amazon.co.jp/dp/B0B2TVLWWD
- Canada - https://amazon.ca/dp/B0B2TVLWWD
- Australia - https://amazon.com.au/dp/B0B2TVLWWD