WHITE HALL, W.Va. (AP) — When Chris Isabella was a small child, his father Tom promised they’d write a book together one day. Recently that promise came true.
Most people have a list of things they’d like to finish in their lives. For Tom, one of the things at the top of his list was writing a children’s book with 31-year-old his son, Chris.
In April 2021, the father-son duo self-published their book, “Pecky Penguin and Friends: Danger at Pinnacle Point.” The book focuses on characters Tom used in stories for his son when he was younger.
“Somehow or another we came up with these characters, for example, we both liked penguins,” Tom said. “We said, once upon a time, that when (Chris) grew up we would write a book one day and share it with other children.”
The Isabellas got their chance as the pandemic rolled around. Tom, who is 61, was retiring from working at the Bridgeport FBI facility and found it was the perfect time to work on the project.
The father-son duo started work on the book early in 2020 then contacted Chris’ childhood friend, Matt Jaco, who is currently a pipeline engineer in Tennessee, to illustrate the book.
“I think it’s important for a children’s book that the visualizations match the story,” Chris said. “We wrote the story and then spent probably double the time getting the characters looks right.”
Both agreed that Jaco’s art is what really makes the book special.
“His illustrations are really what brought it alive,” Tom said. “They match the story and, without that, the story wouldn’t be the same.”
The book touches on themes such as inclusiveness, lying and making friends. However, the main topic of the story is peer pressure.
“We put kind of a lot in a very short space, but it is just fun characters with a bit of morals in there too,” Tom said.
Neither Tom or Chris are interested in turning a profit with the book. The fulfillment of an old promise and working together as a family is really their reward.
“I think it’s just great that we set our mind to something and we did it,” Chris said. “It wasn’t easy. We didn’t sit down and things just flowed, we had a lot of back and forth. It was half business and half family.”
Tom was sentimental about the time he spent with his son and Jaco working on the book.
“You never get tired of spending time with your child,” Tom said. “But the biggest fulfillment I’ve had was when parents say to me, ‘This is my child’s favorite book.’ Nothing beats that.”
Jaco shared their feelings and was excited the first time he saw his name on the Amazon store page.
“It was a very fulfilling achievement to do it, especially with the teamwork of a longtime friend like Chris and his dad,” Jaco said. “Seeing I completed something, seeing (my art) on a book and seeing my name really meant a lot.”
Their book “Pecky Penguin and Friends: Danger at Pinnacle Point” is available at Amazon by searching the title. Physical paperbacks are $12.95 and an eBook version can be purchased on for $9.99.
“I think we all got to know each other better,” Tom said. “Whether (the book) does well or not, it was just fulfilling to bring something to life like that.”