Local five-year-old, Ryeson Bull, and his mom, Shana Bull, just published their first children’s book, Randall the Blue Spider Goes Surfing. Randall’s tale is just now reaching the public, but Ryeson first told his mom about the intrepid arachnid when he was only two.
A few serious health conditions in the family were integral to Randall’s creation; when Ryeson’s grandfather was hospitalized in Southern California after a cycling accident, Shana took her son to his favorite ocean park in Seal Beach. Ryeson couldn’t go inside the hospital because he has cystic fibrosis, which makes it risky for him to be around germs.
While his dad visited his granddad, Ryeson told his mom the story of a surfboarding spider who got nervous when others watched him surf. A couple of years later, Shana’s own diagnosis of cancer—which came amid the Covid-19 pandemic—changed her career path and led the mother-son duo to turn the surfboarding spider’s adventures into a picture book.
The pair teamed up with artist Brady Lovell to illustrate the book. Lovell is married to Shana’s college roommate, and Shana has admired his cartoon designs on Instagram through the years. Ryeson sent Brady original drawings to inform his illustrations.
“It was Brady’s very first children’s book, and like me being an author, it was a bucket list come true for him,” Shana says.
Released by East 26th Publishing, the book is available in paperback and as an Amazon Kindle edition. In Sonoma County, it will be available at Safari West, Baby Bon Ton Studio and Savvy Little Shop. As Randall surfs into stores, Ryeson and Shana are already hard at work on outlining 10 additional stories for the spider and his friends.
Shana says, “All [of the stories] take place by the ocean, and all will have a fun message—but told in a silly, relatable way.”
Lovell is already working on his second draft of illustrations for the next book in the series, which revolves around playing pretend and dealing with bullies.
Randall has garnered many fans, who have also become fans and supporters of Ryeson and Shana. At school, Ryeson’s friend Camellia asks him to read her the story over and over.
On May 15, Ryeson and Shana will give a Zoom reading of the book as part of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s annual fundraising campaign Great Strides. Shana will also be a featured blogger on the foundation’s website (cff.org) and will talk about the book and give some tips for traveling with kids who have the currently-terminal disease. Shana also has an upcoming article for the website Cancer Wellness, in which she’ll tell her cancer story, which is also the story of how her book came to be.