Artist Tom Frank Debuts Children’s Video Storybook


Bridging the gap between an artist’s childhood dream and the retelling of this story years later is a new video storybook by author and illustrator Tom Frank titled, “It Happened One Night on the Milky Way Trail.”

An exhibit revealing the electronic talking storybook and the process of making it will be held at the Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault, February 26 through April 16. A family-friendly artist’s reception with kids’ activities and live acoustics by the ebook’s musicians will be held March 1, from 5-7 p.m. Visitors to the exhibit will be able to view Tom Frank’s creative process - from hand drawing characters, to developing a storyboard, to writing copy and adding colorized scenes to the finished product.

Frank is known as an artist of coloring books, pictured stories, games and an inventive online production called “Space Bugs”, among other art ventures.  His illustrations for the St. Paul Winter Carnival in ’04 made the cover of WHERE Magazine. Most recently, Frank has been a contributing artist in “Easel,” a traveling art show display in SELCO libraries throughout southeastern Minnesota. He also makes guest visits to elementary schools to talk to kids about art. “I try to encourage all kids to draw and write about what interest them most,” said Frank.

“This latest project was a collaborative effort,” shared Frank who worked with father-daughter duo Craig Wasner and Maren Wasner for the music, narration and vocals and also Todd Edwards for the technical animation, after he had written and illustrated the book.

The storyline is based in a dream:A young boy, Mikey, gets the chance of a lifetime to hire on as a wrangler when Tex the cowboy-snowman invites him to join in on a roundup ride. Both he and his sister ride off on an action-packed dream adventure into space.

The dreamy galactic tale, intended for preschoolers, is as innocent and heartwarming as the friendly characters, colored in powdery pastels, which soar across the starry outer blue. The storybook narration and tune add a folksy intonation that’s soothing and playful while on the adventure.

Inspired by a handmade gift, Frank said, “It was my pony "Lightning," a present from my Grandma, made out of one of my grandpa's work socks and a painted broomstick, and my imagined adventures with him as a child that inspired the book. “It Happened One Night on the Milky Way Trail” is a retelling of one of my “Evergreen Dreams” [always alive and present],” said Frank. He produced this story to share with kids everywhere in honor of his grandparents. “This is my tribute to those dear folks.”

Children are touched by the influence of caring adults in their lives – more than we know – and the gift Frank received as a child nurtured not only that relationship but also his talents as an author and illustrator for years to come.

“My much loved Grandma is long since past, but I would like to think my pony "Lightning” is still giving rodeo rides to some lucky little wrangler on the Milky Way Trail.”


This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts & cultural heritage fund.