Long Valley Mom Finds Love In First Children’s Book

by Ashley Bouwense

Long Valley mom and now-author, Lauren Palermo, teaches children to look for the love in her first picture book, “Clicky Jules: Love is all Around.”

“Clicky Jules” was published April 3. It is a story about a girl named Jules who learns how to use a camera. Throughout her “picture-taking adventure,” Jules starts to see heart-shapes in everyday objects and, throughout the story; she decides to take photographs of all the hearts she comes across. The book’s tagline is “Laugh. Love. Click.”

Jules’s journey is meant to show children the possibility of what they can do with a camera.

“The book is all about a girl, her camera and where she’ll go next,” Palermo said.

The inspiration for the story came to Palermo three years ago when her daughter was born.

“I would see hearts everywhere I went,” she explained. “I started to take pictures of all the heart-shaped things I would come across.”

Palermo has hundreds of photos of heart-shaped objects, and she uses some of those photos in “Clicky Jules.” All of the heart shapes Jules comes across in her adventures really happened to Palermo.

The self-taught photographer said Jules’s character is an older version of her three-year-old daughter. Palermo aimed to capture the world through the eyes of a child: the wonderment, the openness and the magic that childhood offers.

Palermo was always creative, drawing and writing whenever she could since she was young, and she always read.

“I would read anything I could get my hands on,” she recalled.

Her love of reading carries onto her family today by instilling her passion into her young children.

“My house is covered in books,” she explained.

Palermo received a business degree from Montclair State University as an undergraduate, and then she went to Saint Peter’s University to earn her teaching certificate and master’s degree in education. For a while, she taught middle school and preschool, and now she stays home with her children.

With her creativity and especially her background in education, Palermo knew that she wanted to write a book, but she did not know how to make it happen.

“I didn’t think writing a book was a possibility,” she admitted. But her kids were her motivation. “I wanted to show them it was possible.”

A year ago, with a rough outline of the story in-hand, Palermo set out to find a publisher. She decided to go with Mascot Books because she knew the company would best understand her vision for the story.

She wrote “Clicky Jules” at home late at night while her kids slept.

Palermo got her writing inspiration by looking at her photos. For example, looking-over photo-documented family hiking trips to Hacklebarney State Park—where she and her kids found heart-shaped rocks—helped encourage her writing.

By scrolling through hundreds of photos, “the story really came together on its own,” she said.

In the future, Palermo would love to write more books.

“I set the Clicky Jules book up for the possibility of future adventures,” she says. “Maybe I’ll put her in a setting where she learns the alphabet through photographing objects in the shape of letters.”

Palermo said there is nothing quite like “Clicky Jules” on the market, as it is a fiction story that not only takes readers on the main characters’ journey, but it is also an educational book that teaches children how to use a camera.

Since its publication in April, Palermo has been receiving photos of heart-shapes on Instagram from people who have read her book and were inspired.

“I am very grateful for the impact my book has had,” she said.

Palermo is starting an Instagram for her book with the username, @clickyjules.

“Clicky Jules” is available for purchase on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, booksamillion.com and at Toys With Love in Chester. Benedict A. Cucinella School and the Washington Township Public Library hold copies of the book, and Palermo will also donate copies to the Chester Public Library. This summer, Palermo will travel to book stores and libraries for book signings.

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