For the past 10 years, Capt. Richard Crocker, CRNA, ANC, USA, has been fine-tuning “The Awfully Short Zebra,” a bedtime story he’s told to each of his five children. A captain in the U.S. Army, Crocker decided to use his nine-month stint in Afghanistan to write down, illustrate, and publish the story.
“I really wanted to do this for my kids,” he said. He wanted to surprise them with a finished version of the story they’d been hearing for so long. After four-to-five months of writing the book and illustrating it in the program Corel Painter, he had the final product.
The tale focuses on a rabbit named Abbott who wants to fit in with a group of zebras living a seemingly carefree life. As Abbott becomes more familiar with the zebras, he learns that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence. Crocker said he came up with a story that centered on some of his childhood recollections.
“[It’s about], as a kid, not feeling a part of a group you wanted to be a part of,” he said. “I think we all go through that. You just have to be grateful for what you have.”
Through his church in Virginia, Crocker worked with Feed My Starving Children
, a nonprofit organization focusing on packing specially formulated meals for malnourished children in 70 countries around the world. After self-publishing the book through Lulu.com, he decided to donate all proceeds to the charity.
So far, Crocker has been pleased with the response. He’s promoted “The Awfully Short Zebra” through social media and also through some public relations outlets in the Army. The book has sold about 200 copies, raising close to $300 for Feed My Starving Children.
“I didn’t intend to sell it [at first],” he said. “I’ve sold 199 more than I thought.”
The book has been a success on all fronts. In addition to the money raised for charity, Crocker’s children have proudly supported the book, taking it to school and show-and-tells.
He hopes to finish his second book soon.
“The Awfully Short Zebra” is available through Lulu.com