MONROE — Debuting as a children’s author, Rich Scalea is publishing “Relish” this month — a short story about a Dachshund that encourages young children to not only savor happy moments, but to find ways to make others smile and relish good times in their lives.
The 34-page picture book follows “Relish” the Dachshund as he befriends a little girl, Rosie. When Relish becomes “too mischievous,” Rosie’s father “sends him away.” However, Relish’s story doesn’t end there. He becomes a service dog who “wants nothing but to bring joy to everyone he meets along the way,” according to an announcement from Scalea’s publishers, Warren Publishing in Charlotte.
A New Jersey native, Scalea was inspired to write the story following a visit home near the Jersey Shore. He saw a woman walking her Dachshund — named Relish — while eating a hot dog garnished with relish, per the announcement.
It’s been a goal of Scalea’s to write a children’s book ever since he became a father. The retiree has long had an interest in writing. He enjoys making people laugh, especially children, the announcement said. Scalea explained: “I always wanted to see a child happy, not sad. If I could bring joy to their lives, that’s what I needed to be doing. When I wrote ‘Relish’ and came to a part I thought would bring a child a smile, I would stop and imagine a parent sitting on a couch or bed with their child, holding my book and reading it to them. That’s what mattered the most to me.”
Pet rescue and adoption are two themes in “Relish,” but beyond that, Scalea wasn’t trying to send a message through his book. “Instead, I was hoping to bring out their emotions to the different situations Relish was experiencing. His innocent yet mischievous antics, his sadness and happiness. I leave the opportunity of lessons that may be present in Relish to the parents. I wrote the book in a way that can encourage a parent to ask their child questions about Relish’s experiences — how a love between a child and a dog can be so powerful and lead to rescuing Relish from a doggie shelter — and the ensuing journey that follows.”
The illustrations by Rachel Allen.