Aaron Tolson taps into COVID creativity to publish children’s book with assist from his kids

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“If you look at my Facebook profile it’s the day we got the book…just happiness! Extreme joy! My wife and I keep seeing people with it, and it’s heartwarming knowing that it’s bringing joy and happiness to people. My daughters come home from school saying to me, so and so has the book and he says it’s the favorite book he has.Aaron Tolson

BEDFORD, NH Aaron Tolson is dancing on air, not because of his usual worldwide frenetic footwork but for a new partnership much closer to home. Inspired by a bedtime story character created by his imagination and in conjunction with his daughters Charlotte, 8, and Alexis, 6. Tolson recently authored the children’s book, “Tiny Tap Shoes.” Featuring “Charliana” and “Alexiana,” Steve the Fairy, and even a cameo by Bedford’s own The Inside Scoop ice cream shop.

“I would tell stories to my children about this character, and that we could write a book and everyone could read about him (Steve the Fairy). This was during the start of the pandemic, and I was excited to show my girls the effort it takes to follow through on a project,’’ states Tolson.

Follow-through they did. Through a series of fortunate events, conception to copy took approximately one year.

“I was teaching and as I was writing the book, I was talking openly to everybody, if you know an artist let me know. Then this tap student of mine, Sadie Chong. told me about her sister, Ani,” Tolson says.

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The first shipment of “Tiny Tap Shoes” landed right around Christmas, and Aaron and Emily Tolson shared the joy with daughters Alexis and Charlotte. The book was a year-long project for Aaron Tolson, with editorial help from daughters and a creative boost from his tap-dancing network. Courtesy Photo

Tolson conveyed what he wanted his character to look like and a few days later, a depiction of the book cover was created.

“After seeing the first thing she drew for me, I knew she was the right person,” Tolson explains. “We had a crazy understanding of each other. I’d want this and she knew how to do it and it just came out exactly how I thought. We ended up getting the illustrations done faster than I expected.” 

However, landing the perfect illustrator on his first attempt wasn’t his only lucky break. Tolson’s publicist, who turned down a prior project by Tolson, just happened to be the wife of a childhood friend and neighbor. “I sent her a book, (a prior project) and she poo-pooed all over it. It was a nice, straightforward eye-opening okay this isn’t it. So with this book coming about…I turned to her and she got it published,” says Tolson.

From the story to the illustration, Tolson’s daughters were collaborators every step of the way, acting as his personal consultants. “I would read them the story and they would tell me if they liked it. They would be very honest, this thing is funny or, that’s just okay Daddy,” 

Tolson says, a big highlight thus far was reading “Tiny Tap Shoes” to a very special group of children. “I got to go into my daughter’s kindergarten class and read it to them and my daughter gets to say my dad wrote this book and he came in and read it to us. That is a fun thing that she will probably remember forever,” Tolson said.

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Back cover summary of Steve’s “first adventure, foreshadowing more to come from tap dancer-turned-author Aaron Tolson.

Although “Tiny Tap Shoes” may be about Steve the Fairy, its truest message begins its story, simply and directly, as a dedication, reflecting the adoration of a father for his daughters. “To my kids. I love you forever.”

With a new book and a growing audience, what would Tolson like to see in the future?

“You know that is an evolving idea, as I started writing the book I wanted to see it exist and so as things started coming together, I started thinking maybe this needs to be a series, and I started writing book two. I think I want to see it animated, that it becomes a cartoon. It’s a hope and a dream.”

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Aaron Tolson will be at The Bookery on March 26, 11:30 a.m. for Storytime. You can sign up for this free community event via Eventbrite, meet the author and buy a book.


About this Author

Constance Cherise

Constance Cherise is a freelance writer and contributor for Turner Classic MoviesSee her work here.