Call for kid illustrators held in Breckenridge for new Eli and Mort book |

Call for kid illustrators held in Breckenridge for new Eli and Mort book

The first book in the Eli and Mort series, “Eli and Mort’s Epic Adventures: Beaver Creek," was released in time for the 2015 World Ski Championships and is currently the best-selling children's book in the Vail Valley.
Courtesy of Elyssa Pallai |

If you go

What: Call for illustrators ages 7 to 17 for “Eli and Mort’s Epic Adventures: Breckenridge,” by Elyssa Pallai and Ken Nager

When: Open houses 5:30-7 p.m. Wednesday, May 27, and Tuesday, June 2; children will pick up images and supplies and will have two weeks to complete and submit drawings

Where: Quandary Antiques Cabin, 131 S. Ridge St. in the Breckenridge Arts District

Cost: Free

More information: Call Pallai at (720) 262-682, or email; for updated information on illustration workshops in conjunction with the contest, visit

Breckenridge Creative Arts and authors Elyssa Pallai and Ken Nager are giving local aspiring artists an opportunity to be part of the magic of producing a new children’s book. “Eli and Mort’s Epic Adventures: Breckenridge” will incorporate illustrations by local students, alongside the characters of Eli and Mort created by artist Eduardo Paj.

The book is the fourth in a series that started with “Eli and Mort’s Epic Adventures: Beaver Creek” and continued with the duo’s adventures in Vail. Pallai said the process begins with a partnership between the authors and local arts organizations.

“It makes it easier for us to find talented young illustrators, and we like giving back to the arts and/or education,” she said, adding that books representing the resort areas of Aspen and Steamboat are also in the works. “A portion of this book goes back to BreckCreate.”

Call for illustrators

The authors worked with BreckCreate to set up a pair of open house events at the Quandary Antiques Cabin in the Breckenridge Arts District on Wednesday, May 27, and Tuesday, June 2, where local kids ages 7 to 17 will choose an image from around Breckenridge to develop into an illustration.

“We’ve either taken the images ourselves or worked with local photographers and marketing departments to get images of cool things kids can do in Breckenridge,” Pallai said. “There’s up to 35 images, depending on the book.”

Once the young artists have chosen their inspiration, they will be given colored pencils and special paper to develop their illustrations. Students will have two weeks to complete their drawings and submit them via provided addressed envelopes, which must be postmarked by Wednesday, June 10. Pallai said, of course, the authors and Paj want the best images possible, but they are also looking for a range of ages representing all parts of Summit County.

“We work with the professional illustrator on how the kid’s image is going to be placed into the illustration,” she said, adding that the team takes many things into account when choosing the final pictures. “It’s how much imagination they used. Kids add all kinds of cool things into the images, kids and animals doing cool tricks — we even had a kid draw a dragon in one of the pictures.”

BreckCreate is planning to staff additional workshops during the contest period, during which students can gain feedback on their illustrations, said Jenn Cram, director of public programs and engagement for Breckenridge Creative Arts. Information on the workshops will soon be available online at

“We are providing space in the Arts District for this project, so we’re aligning some of our instructors so the kids will have an opportunity to get some extra help with the illustrations,” she said. “And those illustrations will be published in a book that they can have on their bookshelf and share with their families for years to come.”

Cram said she’s always looking for creative ways to partner with people and provide creative experiences for children in our community, and this project seemed like a good opportunity for young artists to express themselves.

“I guess the thing that I was most interesting in when I talked to Elyssa about the project is they really reach out to the local kids and capture the things that are the most exciting and what kids related to, as far as our ski area and our community, so it’s specific to what the kids like and what they are excited about,” Cram said.

About the series

Pallai said she and Nager, who also happens to be her fiancé, have three boys and noticed not too long ago that there were no local children’s books that really presented a story from a kid’s perspective. So, they decided to get kids to draw their version of the places they love and the things they love to do at their local resorts.

“It was the X factor,” she said. “We had no idea what these kids were going to come up with, especially the younger ones, and it’s been just amazing. Kids come up to us saying, ‘You’ve made our dreams come true,’ and kids are using this opportunity on their college applications and things that we didn’t even think of.”

The couple’s first book about Beaver Creek has become the No. 1 best-selling children’s book in the Vail Valley, which Pallai attributes to its broad appeal amongst both local residents and visitors.

“Local kids relate to local kids — I’ve been there, and I’ve done that; that’s my local ski run — and the tourists love getting a local perspective on things they’ve done while they are here, so it’s a keepsake for tourists, too,” she said.

The books incorporate kid-friendly businesses and attractions, as well as resort features, and the Breckenridge book could include mining for gold, visiting local restaurants or going for a dog-sled ride.

“We’ve sold thousands of books and we launched Dec. 1; we were really late getting it to market, so it’s been overwhelming, really,” Pallai said. “People just love the characters.”

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