When writer Garrett Callahan was just a boy, he and his family stopped in Marblehead when they were looking for places to live. Even as a 3-year-old, it was love at first sight.
“We stopped at the lighthouse here in Marblehead,” Callahan said. “We immediately stopped and said, ‘We have to live here.’”
All these years later, he decided to write about it.
His book, M is for Marblehead, uses rhymes and captivating illustrations to teach kids about the alphabet, as well as the town.
“Marblehead is just really special. It’s such a unique place,” Callahan said. “The history, it’s obviously so beautiful, and the people are so special. It has everything.”
How did the idea start, you might ask? Callahan was reading a similar type of book about Boston to his niece, and thought, “You could easily fill up a book like this about Marblehead.”
Mission accomplished. Callahan, who said reading has always been important to his family, wanted to make it “easy and accessible” for people to learn about the town.
“I thought a book like this could be a fun way to let kids learn about the history of the town, interact with the town, and engage more with the places they might see every day,” Callahan said. “That was my goal with the book.”
The book highlights historical places and people that both natives and visitors can connect with.
“On each page, actually, there’s a little fact about the place or person,” Callahan said. “For example, for the Warwick [Cinema], the first ticket price when it opened in 1917 was 10 cents. I thought stuff like that could give a bit more context.”
When Callahan wasn’t sure if the book would be published, he decided to try out his own illustrations. He said it was a learning process, but tons of fun.
“That was a bit of a learning curve. I don’t have an art background at all,” Callahan, who went around town to take pictures of each place, said. “I just took my time doing them.”
When asked which page was his favorite, Callahan considered it before settling on two or three (no spoilers), but said many were fun to work on.
The book took almost two years to write, and Callahan is “thankful” for the response it has gotten.
“I didn’t really expect that many people to be so nice about the book,” Callahan said. “I get a little surprised and overwhelmed… I’m very lucky.”
Many parents have reached out to Callahan, something he holds near and dear to his heart.
“I had one parent say, actually, that their child reads it almost every night and loves to go on little scavenger hunts around town and find each of the places that are in the book,” Callahan said.
Oh, and it’s not just for locals.
“I think the book has made it to Austria and Italy,” Callahan said. “That’s pretty cool, to know there’s a little bit of Marblehead in those places as well.”
The book is available at Mud Puddle Toys, Marblehead Mercantile, Shubie’s Marketplace, Marblehead Gardens, Sweetwater Trading Co., and the Abbot Hall Gift Shop.