MIDVALE, Utah - When Karl Beckstrand wrote his 20th book, “Great Cape o’ Colors – Capa de colores,” he didn’t plan on it being about careers. “I just wanted a Spanish-English picture book to teach colors to language learners,” he said.
“I came up with different costumes that include capes — costumes kids might try at home,” said Beckstrand, whose books have diverse characters and language pronunciation guides. But after getting the artwork from the illustrator, he realized this was also a book about jobs for kids—and it fit nicely with three of his other books on careers for kids.
A former Silicon Valley recruiter, Beckstrand wanted to spark imaginations to discover skills and interests. “I especially want kids to learn that our best ideas and skills are born while solving problems and helping others — and this can happen at almost any age,” he said.
Beckstrand, who speaks Spanish and is learning German, has taught English as a second language as a volunteer for more than a decade. He also teaches digital media at Mountainland Technical College in Lehi, Utah. His children’s books share insights he gained while working from a young age.
Besides “Great Cape o’ Colors,” the Careers for Kids series includes “Ma MacDonald Flees the Farm” (about a woman-owned business), “Bright Star Night Star” (for aspiring astronomers) and “The Bridge of the Golden Wood: A Parable on How to Earn a Living” — selected by the State of Vermont for primary school financial literacy curriculum. Each book links to a site with job and business ideas for graduates plus money management tips: ChildrenEarn.com.
In 2016 Beckstrand won an International Book Award for his novel “To Swallow the Earth.” He’s also been praised by Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus, Horn Book’s blog and School Library Journal. “This is a magic cape!” begins Beckstrand’s newest title. “I feel like one of the superheroes inside,” he said.
“Great Cape o’ Colors” is illustrated by John Collado, free on Instafreebie and Kindle Unlimited and available in hard cover, paper, ebook (en español/single language or bilingual) and soon as a coloring book for a girl or a boy from Premio Publishing & Gozo Books, Amazon, Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble/Nook, Brodart, Follett, Ingram and Walmart.com. A book trailer is available on YouTube.