The Making of a Keepsake Book

The process I went through to create a book of memories for my grandchild

Book cover

When our children were young, my husband and I would take turns with each child at bedtime.

I would go first to my daughter while my husband spent time with my son. I would talk about her day, pray with her, tickle her back, and then repeat a saying with her before trading places with my hubby.

I would repeat the bedtime ritual with my son.

The expression that I shared with both of my kids went something like this:

Me: How much do I love you?
Child: Up to God!

Me: When will I stop loving you?
Child: Never!

Me: What could you possibly do to make me stop loving you?
Child: Nothing!

Me: And why do I love you?
Child: Just because you do.

Me: It’s not what you say, it’s not what you do, it’s just because you are you.

Over the years, my kids’ responses could get pretty silly. Instead of saying, “Never!” in response to my question of when I will stop loving them, they would get goofy and say something like, “Yesterday!”

Or, instead of answering, “Nothing!” in reply to my question about what they could do to make me stop loving them, they would say something like, “Put a spider in your soup!”

But despite their silly years, we kept saying the expression and always came back to the true responses.

Even after my son left home at age 15 and, in anger, told me that he no longer had a mother, I would send him text messages asking him how much I loved him and then typing the answer when he didn’t respond.

Those rebellious teenage years were difficult, but I believe that the expression we shared let them know that I truly loved them unconditionally.

As young adults, my children can still rely on the truth of my rhyme.

In 2007, I decided to make the rhyme into a book for my kids to have.

Original book cover

Back then, there weren’t many programs like we have today for indie authors to create books. But I found an online program and put together a small 6-page “book” called, How Much Do I Love You?

Each page had one line from the rhyme and I used black and white clipart hearts to illustrate it.

Now, 15 years later, I share this same expression with my granddaughter. She delights in shouting her responses.

The sheer joy I feel at playing with my 4-year-old grandbug prompted me to relook at the idea of creating a keepsake book.

I learned that picture books are 32 pages long, including cover pages, introductions, back flaps, and copyright information. So I needed more than just the rhyme to fill the pages.

I wrote the book rather quickly, telling the story of our relationship and what we love to do together. Along with describing the kind of fun things we like to do, I included the expression we say together.

But I didn’t know the best way to illustrate it.

At first,  I searched Pixabay for suitable pictures. I absolutely loved the artwork of La Petite Femme and originally created the book using all her illustrations.

However, as much as I loved her illustrations I didn’t think they truly captured the relationship between Sophia and myself.

I then toyed with the idea of making the book more generic with the use of animals. I found some delightful giraffes that I imagined could be representative of myself and my granddaughter. I even tried my own hand at drawing.

Clipart on left, author’s drawing on the right

But, alas, I am not an artist.

My friend, 

Janis Cox is. She illustrated my children’s book Animals in the Bible and has created her own children’s books, Tadeo Turtle and The Kingdom of Thrim.

I contacted her and asked if she’d be interested in illustrating. Although she had a pretty full plate already, she said she’d give it a try. I showed her the pixabay art that I liked so much and she created beautiful pictures.

Draft illustrations by Janis Cox

They were simply adorable. Yet, they still didn’t capture what I was looking for.

Jan recommended a friend, MaryAnne Wheeler Dietrich. I reached out to her and she said that she’d be willing to make a few preliminary sketches. I sent her my manuscript and she created some beautiful artwork.

Preliminary sketches by MaryAnne Wheeler Dietrich

She even sent me a draft of the giraffes I thought so adorable.

Draft illustration of giraffes by MaryAnne Wheeler Dietrich

Both these ladies are so talented! I loved the artwork but it still didn’t capture what I was looking for.

Maybe I could just draw stick figures?

Stick figure drawing by Kimberley Payne


I had the story. I had a ton of photos of Sophia and me doing all the things we loved to do. But I just couldn’t settle on the illustrations.

The photos were nice but I didn’t want a photo book.

I prayed about it.

God gave me the idea to alter the photos to create an artistic yet realistic picture.

I googled and came across Picsart — Create Amazing Photo & Video Edits With Online Design Tools.

It was a slow process to upload my photos and then apply the “Magic — Highlight” effects to create the look I wanted.

But it was worth it!

Photos transformed by PicsArt

The final product is a book that captures the love between my granddaughter and me.

I hope that this will be a keepsake she cherishes today and into the future when I may be long gone.

My granddaughter, Sophia, reading our book “Oma Loves Her Little Grandbug”

My prayer is that she, too, will share joyful times and unconditional love with her own grandchildren.

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