Doodles From the Heart
The idea for Lunchbox Doodles came about on the first morning my daughter started second grade in 2012. After a fun-filled summer vacation consisting of an abundance of family time, realizing that our days were going to be spent apart had me feeling the ‘back to school’ blues. So, on that morning, I took a few minutes and doodled a nerdy worm holding a book with the caption “Back 2 School,” folded up the piece of paper, and placed it in her lunchbox. Looking back, I think it was probably a bit more selfish than generous, really. I was going to miss her, and I liked the idea that, in the middle of her day, she was going to think about me and that I was possibly going to make her smile. Little did I realize that I had started a routine that would turn into something special and help keep us connected for years to come.
It turned out that the doodle-note was a hit. Before I knew it, I was spending anywhere from five to twenty minutes almost every school-day morning on a doodle. They were rough. They were imperfect. But they came from the heart. Over the next six years, I created something like 500 lunchbox doodles. They’ve run the gamut from silly to inspirational to educational, but they all had something in common: she enjoyed receiving them and they were brightening her day. I’m sure that, like me, one of your biggest ‘parent fears’ is losing the bond that comes so easily when your kids are small and smell like baby shampoo and sit on your lap in their fuzzy pj’s while you read them Horton Hears a Who. We all know that our children will grow up. The trick is to help them grow ‘up’ without having them grow ‘away.’
The lunchbox doodles have helped me with that. These were not only bonding moments; they became a part of our interaction. Her reactions to them and the memories associated with them will always be a part of us. It wasn’t long before I started sharing them on social media with friends with hopes that the silliness would also brighten their day. In 2016, Studio 23 Art Gallery in Bay City approached me about a gallery showing consisting of 100 “Lunchbox Doodles.” I was shocked that a prestigious art gallery would want to display what I considered to be silly, roughly drawn cartoons. My daughter and I spent many evenings combing through hundreds of doodles trying to narrow down the ones to be included in the exhibit.
The most common feedback from the exhibit was “Hey-that’s really cool!” or “Can I have some to use with my kids?” and it was those comments that prompted the first official Lunchbox Doodles book, containing 50 of my favorite doodles and released in December of 2020. Not a regular book, though: the point was to help parents put a little love and laughter into their child’s day. Each doodle is easily detachable and printed on heavy stock paper, making it ready for placement in a lunch box or a backpack, and after the initial chuckle, each can be used as a bookmark or coloring page. The response to the book has been nothing short of amazing. Sales orders are coming in from all over the nation, and most recently I’ve been in contact with Barnes and Noble. Parents are commenting not just about the fun of their kids enjoying the jokes and riddles: many are finding artistic inspiration in coloring or drawing doodles of their own on the blank pages at the end of the book. There have even been unconfirmed reports of some kids actually slipping doodles into their parents’ lunches and wallets. Imagine that!
When I comes down to it, I’m just a Bay City dad who can draw and who stumbled on a fun way to interact with his daughter. But the positive feedback has made me think I’m on to something and that the ‘something’ can be shared with others. So, with school back in session and Valentine’s right around the corner, Lunchbox Doodles – The Book might be the perfect gift to give your kids and yourself. After all: they’re going to grow up, but they don’t have to grow away.
**Great Lakes Bay Parents Discount
As a fellow Great Lakes Bay parent, I would like to extend a 20% discount off the purchase of Lunchbox Doodles – The Book. Simply use promo code “GREATLAKES20” at checkout.
About the author: John Bellsmith is a cartoonist and national radio show host who lives in Bay City with his wife and daughter (and his dog, Teddy). When not spending time with his family or at his drawing table, he enjoys music and disc-golfing John is currently preparing for school speaking engagements and a book promotion/signing tour across Michigan.
Purchase Lunchbox Doodles – The Book
A little about the book: – Contains over 50 doodles – Each doodle is perforated and printed on heavier paper stock for easy removal – “Special Days” section includes doodles for Christmas, Easter, birthdays, and more – “D.I.Y.” section with doodled images of celebration that allow for your own message to be written – There are also a few blank panel pages for those who would like to draw a doodle of their own – Besides being used for lunchbox placement the doodles also serve as great bookmarks
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