By Rubin E. Grant
Howard Pearlstein didn’t set out to write a children’s book. It just kind of happened.
A few years ago, Pearlstein was reflecting on his life and decided he wanted to be a better person. He set up some challenges for himself, particularly physically and relationally. Then, he began listening to a bunch of podcasts.
One mentioned that a person spends the bulk of their creative lives doing something for someone else and not for themselves.
Pearlstein, chief creative officer at o2ideas, had been working more than 30 years in advertising when he got an idea about becoming an author.
“Nobody cares that I did all these commercials,” Pearlstein said. “I thought I would like to write a book. My whole career in advertising was spent writing short stories for radio and print advertising, so I thought I’d write a short story for a book.”
Thus was born “Orange Porange,” a K-2 grade teaching tool that was published in mid-October.
“Orange Porange” chronicles Orange’s search for a way to belong. A description of the book states that everyone feels alone and so very different from others at some point in their lives — like nobody can possibly understand what it’s like to not fit in -– but it can be especially difficult for young children to feel like outsiders among their peers.
Since all the other colors make rhyming look so easy, poor Orange can’t find a rhyme for itself — no matter how hard it tries. Filled with clever rhymes and nonsense words, Orange Porange teaches the importance of inclusion and acceptance and the value of a sense of belonging.
“I just started trying to write something that appealed to children,” Pearlstein said. “My wife, Debi, teaches kindergarten and she’s always telling me these stories about the children and I figured it’s important to feel you belong. And even though you might not feel you belong, there is a place for you.
“Happy people make the world a better place, and one major factor for happiness is a sense of belonging.”
Pearlstein got his co-worker and longtime friend Rob Hardison, a writer and art director at o2ideas, to illustrate the book. Pearlstein has collaborated with Hardison on work for brands such as Honda, Verizon, BBVA and Buffalo Rock.
Pearlstein said Hardison was thrilled to be illustrating his first book, especially with the arrival of his first child, Frances.
“His wife was pregnant and he wanted to have something special for her,” Pearlstein said.
As the story in the book unfolds, Orange meets an array of other colors and listens to them boast their rhymes: “Red … Head! Sled! Bed!” But with each color he meets, he fails to find a rhyme for his own color: “Orange … Rorange?”
Alas, just when Orange feels all hope is lost, Purple introduces himself, revealing to Orange a kindred spirit and to the young reader the truth that nobody is ever so different that there’s not someone else in the same boat.
More to Come
The book is published by Marshall Cavendish International (Asia) Pte Ltd. It is available on Amazon at $10 for the hardcover and $7.99 for a Kindle version.
Pearlstein used to live in Mountain Brook but now lives in Birmingham. His three daughters – Amanda, Jacquie and Emily – all graduated from Mountain Brook High School.
He already has two more books in the works, “Sally Ann McFidgetbottom,” which will be published in 2021 by Clavis Publishing, and “This Book Is Not for You,” which will be published by Familius Publishing in spring 2022.
“My ultimate goal is to make the world a better place through my writing, while also entertaining the reader,” Pearlstein said.