Pastarelli – A Children’s Book’s Journey

Have you ever written one of those stories that just sticks with you? Back in 2007, I got a wild hair and decided to take an Italian class at my local community college. I am already fluent in Spanish as well as my native English and thought, what the heck! I’ll learn Italian too.

(Ok, ok, so there was a guy involved… The dating didn’t work out but I had fun learning Italian!)

For a little class at the local college, it was a lot of fun. There was a great mix of for-enrichment students, going to Italy on a vacation students, and 18 year old college kids. All was fun and games until one day, our professor, Mario, announced that he’d be missing a class. We could either make it up (no fun) or do a writing project.

I’ll bet you can guess that I was one of the few who thought the writing project would be fun!

It could be about ANYTHING. It had to be two pages, written in your best Italian. Which, at the time, consisted of very limited vocabulary and verbs in the present tense only. Hey! It was eight weeks into an Italian 101 class, what do you expect!

Beyond the writing assignment, each student also had to give an oral presentation. Eek! Well, actually, with my background in Spanish, the grammar wasn’t scary and I knew my way around a dictionary and a 501 Italian Verb book like riding the Madrid Metro. But to actually SPEAK Italian. Well, I speak Italian to this day like an American with a Mexican-Spanish accent butchering the language. Sorry!

From that assignment was born:


Pastarelli, the poor pasta maker.

Pastarelli, the poor pasta maker.

What better use of beginning language than to write a children’s story, geared towards beginning readers. For the presentation, I sat on the desk with a HUGE picture book I’d illustrated myself and “published” by turning brown paper grocery sacks inside out. It was just like the books we used to read as a class in Kindergarten. For a “snack” I gave out little baggies of farfalle (bowtie) pasta which features in the story.

It was a hoot! A great story. Everybody was laughing. The pictures were engaging. I took home an A+.

And then he sat. Poor, poor Pastarelli. He had his ten minutes of glory in a college Italian class and then sat in his picture book in my closet. I’d always told myself that I’d brush him off someday and get him published.

But if I thought getting a children’s book (or any book) published was a headache, imagine the daunting task of convincing an editor or publishing house to take on a children’s story in Italian. That wasn’t a bi-lingual story. Nope, just Italian. And I have a lot of art training so I was VERY particular about how I wanted the illustrations created.

So Pastarelli sat some more.

Then, I realized what a hypocrite I was being. Come on, Kim! If you’ll indie publish all your other stories and your cookbooks and your how-tos, why WHY would you sell out and try “traditional” for Pastarelli?!

Is the story cute?

  • Yes.

Do you have all the tools to draw and scan in the illustrations?

  • Yes.

Can you find somebody to help you edit the Italian?

  • Thank you Facebook for introducing me to Simona Wright, a friend’s grandma who’s a native Italian speaker AND an Italian professor.

So what are you waiting for?
It was tax season. I work in my family’s tax practice 60+ hours a week. And I discovered that I really enjoyed kicking back each evening with my oil pastels and my chamomile tea to draw Pastarelli. It took all tax season, working on it just an hour an evening, three nights a week. Pastarelli has over 20 all original illustrations plus a few that were “composites” that I drew the pieces and then layered it together in Photoshop.

I also translated Pastarelli from the original Italian and into English and Spanish. I figured, why not?

Then, in early May, I was able to fulfill another life-long publishing dream:

I’d written, illustrated, and PUBLISHED my very own children’s book.


I also realized that there were other stories I had sitting on the shelf just waiting like Pastarelli & Pesto (Italian) and El Grifo (Spanish).

The moral of the story:

Dead Tree Publishing isn’t going to come knocking. Navigating that publishing process won’t get any easier. And at the end of the day, indie publishing isn’t a cop-out. It’s the ONLY way to get the stories out of the drawer in into the hands of readers.

Get Pastarelli and his Princess from now:


Kim Galloway
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