Shaun Johnson ’13, business technology administration, has written and illustrated his first children’s book, Why Was Six Afraid of Seven? The story is part anti-bullying parable and part reading-and-math primer, and involves the numbers Six, Seven, and Nine dealing with an interpersonal conflict and learning how to solve problems amongst themselves. (Spoiler alert: Seven doesn’t actually eat Nine. It’s only a dream, but the message is clear nonetheless.)
Johnson, who uses the pseudonym Es Kay Johns, says the idea first came to him in a creative writing class he took here at UMBC in 2011. “I don’t even think I ended up using it for the class,” he says, but because it was a twist on a familiar joke, “it always stuck out for me.”
Johnson also has a background in design — he went to high school for it — and when he got the Adobe Suite for his graduate program, he saw a perfect opportunity to illustrate his own book. After a successful Kickstarter campaign and a good round of testing with his young nephew and coworkers’ kids (Johnson works for the Department of Defense by day), the book is now available on Amazon in paperback and hardcover.
“I really want kids to [take from the book] that bullying is wrong, and you should be able to talk about your problems. You shouldn’t have to attack someone verbally or physically…[to] work it out,” he says.