MOUND — Almost exactly a year after releasing her first children’s book, Mound native Mikaela Casey has published the second in her “Lenny the Loon” series, titled “Lenny the Loon: A Tour of the Twin Cities.”
“I had a lot of adrenaline coming off the last book,” Casey told Lakeshore Weekly News. “I was so excited, and it was doing so well and it had so much positive energy behind it that … come January I was like, ‘Time for the next one.’”
Her first book, “Lenny the Loon: An Adventure on Lake Minnetonka,” was released in early November 2018. It introduced readers to Lenny, a loon, and Wally, a walleye. The pair went around and visited popular Lake Minnetonka landmarks.
In her second book, Lenny says goodbye to Wally and Lake Minnetonka for the winter and heads to the Twin Cities to meet his sister so they can migrate south for a few months. On this adventure, Lenny gets a tour of Minneapolis and St. Paul, seeing popular landmarks including parks, professional sports stadiums and museums.
Every spot Lenny visits in the beautifully illustrated book has some significance to Casey. She lives in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis and went to the University of Minnesota, so those were obvious spots to include in Lenny’s tour of the Twin Cities. She picked other places, such as Minnehaha Falls, U.S. Bank Stadium and the Science Museum of Minnesota, because they’re some of her favorite places, and also because she believes they help represent Minnesota as a whole, paying tribute to the state and the Twin Cities.
Casey, who graduated from Mound Westonka High School in 2008, dreams of writing three more “Lenny the Loon” books, with the series finishing where it started — on Lake Minnetonka (she’s already started writing it). Some ideas she has for Lenny’s future adventures are Lenny having a family reunion at the National Loon Center planned for Crosslake, touring the Brainerd Lakes area, and then having Lenny visit Duluth and Lake Superior.
She admits it’ll probably be more than a year before the third “Lenny the Loon” book comes out because releasing the second book in 10 months was “mass chaos” to get everything done.
“It felt really rushed,” Casey said. “I’m really happy with the end product, but next time I’m going to give myself more time — maybe a year and a half.”
Casey has a day job as a personal assistant/house manager/nanny for a family on Lake Minnetonka, who she says has been supportive of her taking time to promote and write her books.
“I can’t quite quit my day job yet. One day I would love to just be an author, and I think right now it’s a great stepping stone in working toward that,” Casey said. “I do still work, unfortunately.”
Casey, who still gets excited to see her books on shelves at local stores, makes it a point to host book signings and sell her books at local markets to promote “Lenny the Loon” and talk to readers.
“It’s so cool to see people’s reactions and talk to them about it,” Casey said. “Little kids will tell me ‘Oh I love Lenny’ and that just like blows my mind.
“That’s something that hasn’t really resonated with me, that kids are learning to read from Lenny the Loon, which is awesome. It’s a really cool feeling,” she added.
Casey self-published both of her children’s books, and hopes Lenny the Loon will inspire others to do the same. She says it’s “not that hard,” but it does take a lot of research and time.
“The end product is worth it 100%,” Casey said, noting she wrote her first Lenny the Loon book for fun, and then she sold out of her first 1,500 copies before Christmas.
She’s learned from that for the release of “Lenny the Loon: A Tour of the Twin Cities.” Casey said she ordered 3,000 copies of the book because it’s a larger market and she does not want to sell out before the holidays because if you do, you’re out of luck because printing companies are busy and are a month out, at least.
“I thought, better safe than sorry, so I’m going to get 3,000 — put all my life savings into it, but hopefully” they’ll sell, Casey said, noting the book makes a good gift.
“Lenny the Loon: A Tour of the Twin Cities” is written by Mikaela Casey and illustrated by Yana Popovais, a London-based illustrator who is originally from Bulgaria.
The book is $19.99. It is available at Excelsior Bay Books, Kowalski’s Markets, the General Store and online at lennytheloon.com.