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Authors highlight "Snowbird Saturday" on Jan. 19

Posted by John Wolfe on 9th Jan 2019

We have a great afternoon lined up for Jan. 19 called "Snowbird Saturday."

In a tip of the cap to our winter visitors from parts north and east, we welcome children's book authors Ed and Ellen Zacko, artist Robert McKeon, and author Barbara Renner (with roots from Minnesota) for a book-signing event and music from noon to 2 pm.

Ceramic artist Barb Beavers, of Eloy but with roots in Indiana, will also be on hand to meet guests. Here's our recent feature about her.

This will be the first visit by the Zackos and McKeon. Here's their story.

Ed is a native of Pottsville, Pa. and Ellen comes from Minneapolis.

Their new book, "The Adventures of Mike the Moose: The Boys Find the World," was developed from their lives in New York City and beyond.

It is a story about the friendship between a moose, two bears and a gorilla who find their dreams fulfilled when they depart to find the world in a small sailboat


The couple met while playing in a pit orchestra of a Broadway musical and hatched a scheme to build a sailboat in their backyard and explore the world together.

Their Nor’Sea 27 sloop Entr’acte was launched in 1980 and for more than 30 years has sailed the oceans of the world with “the Boys” as crew, crossing the Atlantic six times, traversing the French canals from East to West and North to South and eventually setting out across the Pacific.

Ellen’s parents moved to Mesa in 1994. Ellen and Ed loved leaving cold NYC for their vacations in Arizona and knew this would become their state of choice for retirement in the near future.

In 2002 that dream came true with the purchase of their home in Sun City West. At the same moment the genesis for the book “The Adventures of Mike The Moose: The Boys Find the World” began as Ellen and Ed left on their 15-year sailing trip around the world with their new "crew members" on board.

Their illustrator, Bob McKeon, was born in Grand Rapids, Mich. and graduated from Kendal School of Design with a degree in advertising design.

He put his way through college as a musician.

After college Bob worked in various capacities as staff artist for a printing firm then art director of the local TV stations. And late in 1972 Bob formed his own advertising design studio, doing freelance graphics for a variety of clients.

Prior to moving to Phoenix in 2001, Bob and his wife, Margo, had vacationed in the Phoenix area for 13 years. Having fallen in love with the state, they decided that, when the time was right, they would make a permanent move to this beautiful area.

Bob and Margo are fulltime residents here in Phoenix. Bob is active in the graphic design aspect of his life, including the illustrations for "Mike the Moose."

Bob is also active with the Desert Fly Casters as editor of their newsletter. The move to Arizona has opened a great way of life.

He and his wife are active in the jazz community with Bob as a drummer and Margo as a vocalist, and they will be performing on "Snowbird Saturday."

Bob has had a following in Chandler over the years, having performed at 98 South (now DC SteakHouse) and at the Chandler Jazz Festival.


The event also features the return of Barbara Renner.

She has signed copies of her "Quincy the Quail" books several times, but she also has a Midwest-inspired book series involving "Lonnie the Loon."

The series consists of four books about a juvenile loon named Lonnie growing up in the Minnesota's lake country. Lonnie explores his home lake with his mother and wants to change shape like the clouds.

Here are the titles: "Lonnie the Loon Learns to Fly;" "Lonnie the Loon Finds His Home;" "Lonnie the Loon Flies South for the Winter;" and "Lonnie the Loon Learns to Call."

Two of the books contain QR Codes so the reader can listen to the loon calls using a QR Code Reader App and also learn facts about the Common Loon.

Her newest "Quincy" book is "Quincy the Quail and the Mysterious Egg." It is about Quincy's dilemma when a large egg plops down next to his family's nest.

He must decide what to do with this mysterious intruder, and his solution provides the quail family an opportunity to become friends with their desert neighbors.

The reader can listen to the quail calls using a QR Code Reader App and also learn facts about the Gambel's Quail and Great Horned Owl.

Here's more about Barbara.