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The Quintessential Tennessee Homeplace

Amy Grantham
Amy Grantham Author Interview

Cleon’s tells the personal story of co-author Amy Grantham in a wistful picture book about growing up in her family’s homeplace in Southwest Tennessee. How did the idea for this book begin and how did you come to collaborate on the project?

I talked to April a lot about the place that we consider to be our “homeplace.” Generations of my family had lived in the house and on the land there. It’s such a special place to us that I wanted to share it with her as well. We had visited the place together, and she had heard a million of my stories from me and other family members before the project ever began.

I loved the pictures in the book. How did you decide which pictures to include?

April was responsible for the photographs that are used at the center of each page. She, with the permission of my cousin who owned the place at the time, went there and took the photos without me. She put them together in a scrapbook with the story and surprised me with it as a gift. When I started putting the project together for print, I added photos and keepsakes to the background that came from my family’s belongings. There’s a receipt from my granddad’s days working at a local hospital. There are letters that my great-uncle Cortez sent to my aunt, Cleon, from when he was a soldier in World War II. Pins, coins, paperclips, and other items came from my grandparents’ things. The only old photo in the book is of my aunt, Cleon, who owned the place most of my life. She was a pivotal person to us all, and was our matriarch for so many years.

What were some ideas, or emotions, that were important for you to convey in this book?

After April gave me the scrapbook, I shared it with my family. So many of them loved it so much that they asked us to reproduce it. We wanted to share our love for the house and land with others. We knew other people had their own “homeplaces” in their lives and could relate. Cleon’s, as I call the place, feels like the quintessential Tennessee homeplace to me. A friend mentioned that the book conveyed “object permanence.” We all have those tangible things and places tied to so many memories. People outside of the family won’t recognize every little thing in the photos, but they may be able to tie it to the things that they remember and feel nostalgic about.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m not sure what our next project will be, but I’m looking forward to working with April again. This was our third book together, and I’d love to add many more.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

Cleon’s: The Story of a Tennessee Homeplace is a short children’s book set against a historical, tin-roofed home that has been burned in the memory and warmed the hearts of countless generations. Author April B. Pulliam helps Amy Grantham tell the story of her family’s homeplace in Southwest Tennessee through her beautiful words set against a backdrop of photos of the house mixed with family keepsakes. Together, they bring the pages of the storybook to life and echo the sentiments of so many Hurst family members who have walked the grounds of “The Hurst Nation” since before the Civil War. Generations flock back to the homeplace each year for the Hurst Family Reunion where relatives of Colonel Fielding Hurst once lived. More personally to Amy, though, this place has always just been “Cleon’s.” She associates the house with her great aunt who she considered to be the family matriarch while growing up–Cleon Hurst Tucker. Cleon was only a couple of generations removed from her infamous great, great uncle, Colonel Fielding. April captured Amy’s fondness for the place and its inhabitants in prose after listening to countless tales of what happened there throughout the years. She tells the story of the house through a child’s eyes–Amy’s eyes. The house and the acres around it are filled with the reverberations of family stories, sweet memories, peace, quiet, and maybe, just maybe, a little magic.


Cleon’s by author’s April Pulliam and Amy Grantham is a feel-good read that will give you a nostalgic feeling. The book follows a little girl and her story of growing up in her historic house. The images that accompany the descriptions are captivating and bring the short story to life. As I read this heartfelt book I began to think about the house I grew up in as a child, although not nearly as historic or important, it reminded me of all the small things that you recall about your house, not the grand things everyone hears about, the minor things that effect you personally. I appreciated that the pictures were in black and white and had a rustic touch to it as it shows the age of the house and how time has passed as the little girl grew up. There’s little details to the pictures that tell a story all on their own.  I felt as though I was looking through the family’s scrapbook. The descriptions, as brief as they are, are so powerful that you are taken back in time and you can imagine the smells and sounds in Cleon’s house. You can feel the love, happiness, and safety that the little girl felt growing up in her home and how she hoped those same feelings would be passed on to the next generation.

In just thirty six pages the reader is taken on an emotional and reminiscent journey to Cleon’s house. Cleon’s is a short and sweet mini-family-saga, mini-memoir, mini-tribute to something that has affected an entire family, and generations past, and Amy shares her personal story in an evocative and charming way.

Pages: 36 | ASIN: B099BYLKWQ

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Strength That Lies Within

April Pulliam Author Interview

April Pulliam Author Interview

Strong Is…” shows that children can be strong in their own way when they’re up against tough challenges. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I began writing “Strong Is…” when my friend, Kathy, was battling breast cancer and had her in mind the entire time I was planning the path the story would take. It was important to me to convey her strength and at the same time write a book her young daughter and other children could understand and find relatable.

I thought the art was cute and fitting for the story. What was the art collaboration like between you and the illustrator Amy Grantham?

Amy is a phenomenal artist. We work together on a daily basis, so discussing the story and our ideas for the illustrations was simple. Once we decided we wanted the entire book to slowly reveal the character’s point of view, the rest was easy. Over the years, I have seen enough of Amy’s artwork to know what look I wanted for the illustrations, and Amy listened to my descriptions and more than delivered.

I thought you handled this sensitive topic with respect while also making it accessible. What do you hope readers take away from your story?

It’s my hope that readers of all ages realize that no matter the challenges they face, there is a strength that lies within each of us. Overall, I want the book to be a bright spot during difficult times for those struggling with cancer, their families, and their friends.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

Our next book is “Bottom Down, Penelope Brown” and should be available in the next 2-3 months. I won’t give anything away about it–my mom wants to be surprised.

Author Links: Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Strong Is . . . by [Pulliam, April B.]Author April B. Pulliam explores what “Strong Is” through a child’s eyes. Nothing defines strength like a battle, and there is no battle like the one presented by cancer. This book is for anyone touched by cancer and amazed by the strength found within during the darkest of days.

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Strong Is…

Strong Is . . . by [Pulliam, April B.]

What is strong? According to Merriam-Webster, strong is not mild or weak. But what exactly does that mean? To determine if someone or something is strong you need to look at it in context and compare it to other things that are similar. Strong Is… by April Pulliam and illustrated by Amy Grantham looks at the situation through the eyes of a child. The child is relaying all the ways they have heard the word strong used to describe people and things. Each situation gives a new view on what makes something strong or not. As you go through the book you encounter funny images like a stinky dog or a hungry lion, but then it starts to focus more on people and the images become more serious; a hospital, a distraught mother. It all leads up to the end with a picture of a small child. While the book never says cancer in the story line, it is implied with the imagery and by reading up on the author’s page at the end.

This is a challenging subject and this book is a great way to introduce a young child to what might be going on. Learning that it’s okay and even when you’re little you can be strong in your own way. I think this is a great book for siblings or even a child that may be going through this to read and gain some confidence. It’s an emotional topic that is handled with dignity and simplified for young readers. I recommend this book to anyone that knows someone going through an illness and trying to explain it to a young child.

Pages: 15 | ASIN: B07NKH1FNC

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