Students learn tips from children’s author and illustrator

Fourth graders got a special treat when children’s author and illustrator, Beth Gully, visited them with her book, “The Other Side of Christmas.” The story blends the holiday traditions with the nativity story through unique illustrations called ambigrams. Ambigrams are words or images that can be enjoyed from two directions.

In describing how she got the idea for the book, Mrs. Gully told students how she used her graphic design skills to make ambigrams for ornaments, posters and other art as a fundraiser for mission trips. A friend and book editor suggested she make a children’s book.

“Some of my best work happens on napkins,” says Mrs. Gully. Her first two doodles were sketched and the inspiration for “The Other Side of Christmas” took off from there. Still, the project was not without challenges and took a total of eight years to finish.

“I was scared,” she admits. “I didn’t want to ruin this great concept that God gave to me. The book became a weight and a burden.”

With friends praying for her to move forward with the project, she ultimately realized that “Whatever God has inspired you to do, He will give you what you need to do it.” Once she dedicated herself to working on the project every day, she found the motivation to complete the illustrations and rhyming verses. She self-published “The Other Side of Christmas” in 2014; the book is available for purchase on AmazonSmile.

“She’s a really good artist,” says Jendaya Gillispie, Grade 4. “I’m glad she took the story about Jesus and put it in a children’s book.”

After reading the story aloud to fourth graders, Mrs. Gully allowed them to trace her designs and experiment with making their own ambigrams.