Book idea becomes reality


Delaware resident Kathleen Byrnes, in conjunction with best friend and co-author Katherine Sternat, is set to release a children’s book next month with the debut of “Max and the Crummy Carrots.”

“Max and the Crummy Carrots” focuses on a little boy who doesn’t want to eat his vegetables at dinner, a storyline both children and adults may find relatable. When Max is sent to his room, he dreams of being anywhere but within those four walls.

Looking out the window, he sees birds and imagines what it would be like to be one of them, free from the restraints of being a child. From there, Max takes an imaginative journey far away from home when he soon realizes “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side,” Byrnes said.

The book represents the culmination of a process that began more than 20 years ago when Byrnes and Sternat were just freshmen at Ohio University. There, they shared the same living area and “hit it off right off the bat,” according to Byrnes, and knew they were “kindred spirits.”

While Byrnes can’t recall the initial motivation for the idea of writing a children’s book, she can recall the moment the idea began to take shape.

“We were in Gavelston, Texas, for spring break, and it was still our freshman year,” she said. “And when everybody else went out partying and to the bars, she and I took to the hot tub at the hotel. We ordered some Diet Cokes and talked about what we wanted to do with our futures, and the idea of the children’s book came up.”

With some scrap paper in hand, Byrnes and Sternat began to brainstorm various storylines. Byrnes said she doesn’t remember what led to the premise of a child who won’t eat his vegetables, although she speculated it may have been because she, herself, does not eat any vegetables.

“The ideas of what would transpire throughout the book, what animals he would turn into, and that sort of thing was all pretty much done that night,” Byrnes said.

Byrnes and Sternat “toyed around” with acting on the idea of publishing the book following the spring break trip, but as freshmen in college with limited funds and limited information on publishers, the book remained just an idea as the years began to pile up and their lives after college came into focus.

Although the two remained the best of friends after school, often vacationing together through the years, the book was seemingly destined to be little more than a fun memory from a simpler time. That is until Byrnes happened across the old scrap paper nearly two decades later as she prepared to move to Delaware.

“When we were packing up the house in 2018, I came across it and was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I completely forgot about this.’ And I called Kathy and asked if she remembered it, and she said ‘absolutely.’ So that’s when we decided to go for it.”

Before fully committing to the publishing process, both Byrnes and Sternat discussed the idea with their respective mothers for words of guidance.

“Both moms basically said, ‘Hey, if you’re not going to do it now, are you ever going to do it? Just go for it.’ We both convened after those talks and shared the similar sentiments of our mothers, so we did it,” Byrnes said.

From there, the duo developed the story further to make it more in-depth than the original thoughts jotted down on a scrap piece of paper. The entire book needed to be written, and the two tackled those efforts together, albeit virtually with Sternat residing in Texas.

The finished book was delivered to the co-authors last fall, a moment which Byrnes admitted was “bittersweet” given that it brought to a close a process that began 21 years prior. She also noted the book wouldn’t have happened without the encouragement of her mother, who passed away in 2020 prior to being able to see the completed product.

However, Byrnes added it has been rewarding and a source of pride to be able to show the book to her kids, and she has even been able to read it to her son’s preschool.

Byrnes went on to say, “Every time I see it, I’m just thinking how funny it is that this idea was cooked up in a hot tub while drinking Diet Coke. And with my best friend. It’s something pretty special, although it took way too long. But we’ve both always been procrastinators.”

The book goes on sale on March 7 and can be purchased from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Amplify Publishing Group. Purchases can also be made directly through both authors by visiting their website at

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