Brandon Vreeman holds George, the main character in his new children's book.
SUBMITTED PHOTO
Brandon Vreeman holds George, the main character in his new children's book. SUBMITTED PHOTO

“Pure inspiration” led to a children’s book and perhaps a new career for former Spring Valley resident Brandon Vreeman.

“‘The Ball That Did Not Like to Bounce’ was written on pure inspiration.  Someone said something to me about a ball not bouncing, and the book hit me right away,” said Vreeman, son of De Vreeman, about his children’s book that features main character George, a red ball that prefers to roll instead of bounce.  

“I immediately sat down and wrote it out.  My best work comes when I’m completely inspired.  When I try to force the words, it’s harder to come up with them,” said Vreeman. “As for a plot, I didn’t directly decide what the plot was going to be for the book, but I’m passionate about using media of all sorts to help us become better people.  I feel that the best place to start, in order to make a longer-lasting change in our society, is with children.  They are the ones that are going to have the longest effect, and their minds are far more open to change than we as adults tend to be.  Because of this passion, my focus in most of the things I read is on improving oneself.  I also try to read books to my kids that have a lesson and can hopefully improve them, too.  I believe this is a big reason why the book came out the way it did.”    

Vreeman and his wife live in Maple Grove, Minnesota, a place she had previously enjoyed living. The couple has no family there, but a lot of friends, and a few people that he counts on like family, said Vreeman. 

The two have a consulting business called Vreeman Consulting, LLC.  His wife handles change management, culture change, executive coaching, leadership development and various other areas while he takes care of the business side, reviewing contracts, dealing with financials and doing general administrative work.  He also does some work for another consultant dealing with various projects and he has Blue Moon Décor, a business that buys and sells items, but is in a very limited state of existence at the moment, he explained. 

“My main occupation, though, is that I’m a stay at home dad,” he said, which is his most important — and favorite — job.

“I see this book as a piece of my overall life and direction.  This book is eventually going to be used as a tool for Vreeman Consulting to open up a discussion with students and caregivers about seeing the world differently.  About how we can be better individuals and how we can lead a life that isn’t just for us, but for the people around us, too,” said Vreeman.    

His writing has evolved since he was young, when he wrote more. He picked writing back up again and had two books written prior to the “The Ball That Did Not Like to Bounce.”

“The original writing of this book took about 15 minutes, and from when it was written to when we started the publishing process was probably about a year.  Once the publishing process started, it was about six months to having a finished book,” he explained. 

He chose to self-publish “The Ball” so that George could gain momentum. The process was fairly easy because the company, Beaver’s Pond Press, helped walk him through the process and handled much of the legwork. When he and his wife had saved enough money to publish, they had to choose which of the three books to print, eventually picking “The Ball That Did Not Like to Bounce.”

As a writer, Vreeman had the skills to share a story through words, but he needed to find an illustrator to draw the pictures that engage children’s imaginations further. Beaver’s Pond Press gave him a list of recommended illustrators, with several samples from each. 

“I chose the illustrator that best fit the style I saw for my book. Tou Yia Xiong is my illustrator, and his vision for this book was right in line with mine,” said Vreeman. “He was extremely easy to work with and was very timely in his work. All around, dealing with Tou was a pleasant experience.” 

The finished book arrived after six months’ work, and Vreeman savored the first copies’ arrival. 

“I had a close friend deliver the books to me from the printer.  It was exhilarating opening that trailer door and seeing the stacks of books.  Then opening the first box…it was awesome.  Hands down the best way to describe it…‘awesome,’” he said.

He’s proud of his work, but it’s the book’s message that means more to him than the finished product. 

“It is a story that is truly meant to help a child in understanding a part of life that we all experience and is hard on everyone that goes through feeling like they’re different.  I love the book, but the thing I love most is what the book means or could mean to people,” he said.  “I want, above all things, for “The Ball That Did Not Like to Bounce’ to leave an impact on a child that will help them be a better person.  I wanted the book to come across in a way that any child could feel themselves in George’s ‘shoes’.  As strange as it might be, I want them to imagine the feeling of being different and alone — we are different from those people around us in some ways, and in some, we are the same.  In either case, we are not alone in this world.  Someone will be willing to ‘roll’ with us even when all the others seem to ‘bounce.’  That’s a great thing about books.  You can experience things that you maybe haven’t experienced yet.  It helps us deal with those things when we or someone we know actually experiences them.  I want every child to have an opportunity to read the book.  Even if there’s an off chance they might remember the book’s message, it’s worth it.”      

So far, Vreeman has been able to share “The Ball” with numerous receptive audiences.  He has done several story times at libraries, schools and at bookstores. 

“I love what kids come up with when I’m reading the book.  Kids really do say the darnedest things,” he said. 

He’s been focusing mostly on the locations that he has the ability to reach easily, rather than a distribution system that can help the book become more widespread.

“ I love that it’s in the Spring Valley library.  I didn’t spend a lot of time in the new and current location, but spent plenty of time in the old location.  I hope to set up a reading or signing at the library soon,” he said.

“Every single time someone chooses to purchase my book, I still get excited.  It gives me one more opportunity to hopefully improve someone’s life.  I enjoy the opportunity to create change through my writing,” said Vreeman. “The thing that excites me the most is when I hear that my book is a favorite within a home.  That is something that takes the lesson within the book from a person’s head to their heart.  Repetition of the story will help the message to last longer in a child’s life and will help them to believe in the message more.”

Vreeman’s book is available in the area, including Rainy Days and Mondays (Pizza Farm) outside of Spring Valley, A Gift to Gab and Ed’s Floral in LeRoy and Harmony Gardens & Floral in Harmony.  He also has copies available through some of his family in the area, and he noted people can always contact him through his website, www.brandonvreeman.com, to ask where the closest copy is available.

“This book is hopefully the first book of many to be published.  I have several more written and waiting to be published…I’m planning to start submitting them to the traditional publishers, but will self-publish more once we’ve sold more of this book,” said Vreeman.  “Each book, I hope to create a message that will help children as they grow up and experience life.”