From the time she was two to her days on Team USA to the present day, alpine skier and Park City local Libby Ludlow's passion for skiing has been a lifelong love affair. Now a mother herself, Ludlow, like so many other avid skiers, is keen pass on the joys of sliding to her own child. But how do you translate the magical experience to little ones? Considering cold weather, falls, and fatigue, a day of skiing can be very overwhelming for a toddler, and a bad experience can easily derail your dreams of ripping down runs with junior in tow. Ludlow's answer to this predicament was authoring A-B-Skis, a children's alphabet book that aims to instill a lifelong love of skiing in wee ones. Written for kids, from infant to age eight, with enough charm to entice adults as well, A-B-Skis features cute, colorful illustrations from PSIA ski instructor and artist Nathan Y. Jarvis and imaginative poems by Ludlow, celebrating everything from attitude, hot chocolate, and fluffy white powder to fantastic yard sale falls that make a day on the slopes absolutely priceless.
Ludlow is planning to self-publish A-B-Skis ahead of a Kickstarter launch. We caught up with her to find out more about the book and how best to share our love of skiing with children.
Where did you get your inspiration to write this book and is it your first?
It is my first book, but I've been an avid writer my whole life, ever since elementary school. I'm super passionate about skiing and I have so many childhood memories of magical and inspiring experiences on the mountain. My son is almost two years old and I'm really excited to get him out there, but there aren't any skiing books out there to help mentally prepare him for a day on the hill. There was a gap in the market and it seemed like a great opportunity to combine my passion for skiing and writing. Technically I've been working on it for a year, but I think the process really started when I took a children's book class at the Kimball Art Center.
The artwork in this book is adorable, how important was the illustration to you and how did you team up with Nathan Jarvis for the project?
In my opinion, illustrations in children's books are everything. Kids are very visual, they digest the imagery on every page so it was really important for the book to have vibrant, fun, and enticing artwork. Nathan was actually the instructor of the class at the Kimball that I took and he was the first person I thought of. But because he's so talented, I doubted my own worthiness. Luckily, when I did reach out to him, he was super excited about the concept and basically would have done anything to get involved.
Do you think this book is a good match for families and kids who aren't skiers? Are there any other lessons tucked in the pages?
I think the book still has a lot of valuable life lessons even for non-skiers, like having a good attitude, never giving up, and picking yourself up when you fall down. Themes like enjoying the present moment, the beauty of the outdoors, and the value of friends are woven throughout. I wanted a balanced approach to the concepts involved with the world of skiing mixed in with cultural things, like sipping on hot chocolate, to instructional points of what a kid can expect.
What are some of your favorite pages in the book?
I've always had an affinity for flying, I even thought I could fly when I was a kid, so I would say 'j for jump' and all the associations of being so happy and free when you catch air. 'O for outside' is also a big one. Being outside, breathing the mountain air is something I think older readers relate to as well. I think it helps small kids be aware of what a privilege and opportunity it is to be out there soaking up the experience. Also, 'y for yard sale' because taking those big spills can be a very difficult experience for a tiny person and keeping that light and fun can temper their experience.
Do you have any advice for parents trying to get their kids into skiing, beyond reading the book, of course?
Just make it as fun as possible. It doesn't matter if it's bribing them with candy or letting them go inside when they're done, so they can be present and have a positive experience. I think it's also important to be mindful of different factors, like choosing days with favorable conditions so you don't have a small child getting blasted with wind or falling down on hard, icy runs.
Unfortunately, you won't be able to run out to the bookstore to grab a copy of A-B-Skis this instant, but you can order a copy and share the stoke of skiing with the nearest and dearest tiny humans in your life by checking out Ludlow's Kickstarter campaign here.