Local author introduces ‘The Sloppy Okapi’ to Milford

MILFORD — Charlie, “The Sloppy Okapi,” is like many children; he doesn’t like to put things away in their rightful places. But this means he can’t find his most favorite possessions like a detective badge and other items.

The tale, seemingly told by parents all over the world, can now be found in a children’s book, “The Sloppy Okapi,” written by Greenwood resident Keith Bosco.

To add to its local flair, Mr. Bosco excitedly pointed out after a book reading event at Lifecycle in Milford Sunday afternoon that everyone on his team were from Delaware.

“And a fun thing to add,” he continued, “A lot of the work was done at the Greenwood library. I would meet the illustrator there to review pages he wanted to illustrate. And I met my editor there a lot. She lives in Lincoln.”

Although Mr. Bosco grew up in Magnolia and now lives in Greenwood, he has strong roots in Milford. His grandparents are Joseph “Ronnie” and Ruth Rogers. Mr. Rogers became a city council member in 1972 and was Milford’s mayor from 1982-2008.

The newfound author is carrying on the community service legacy by using his talent for writing.

He graduated from Caesar Rodney High School and most recently was the assistant director for Community Integrated Services, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people with disabilities find jobs.

“Right now, it’s kind of all in with the book,” he said optimistically. “My memory is not the best, but I know I’ve had the desire to do it for a long time now. I think the idea of kids being able to do anything, the imagination of kids, kinds of make you tap into your imagination as well.”

Before he could write his first children’s book, he says he “grew up, got married and had kids.”

“I’d make up stories to tell them and it’s fun. I just kept thinking, ‘One of these days, I should write it down,’” he said.

That day came while listening to his three-year-old son, now eight, watch a television show on Nickelodeon.

“It was ‘Go, Diego, Go.’ And I walked downstairs and they were talking about an Okapi and I thought, ‘That’s just a neat animal,’” Mr. Bosco said of his story idea.

“Sloppy came to mind because it rhymes. Then the idea of a detective came to me. In just about 20 to 30 minutes, I hand wrote the first draft of the story. I came downstairs and told my wife [Renee], ‘Hey, I think I have my first children’s book. Its had many revisions since then, but that kind of birthed that project there.”

“The Sloppy Okapi” even mimics some of Mr. Bosco’s own childhood.

“When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a detective. And I always had a messy room. I really do look back and wonder if subconsciously that played a role in it,” he said.

Looking forward, Mr. Bosco’s family is taking the show on the road.

“Close to three weeks ago, we left Delaware and went up to New England. We went to Massachusetts to start our first book event out of state. We’ve been wanting to travel for a long time,” he said. “At first, we weren’t sure about traveling in an RV. How do we even do that? I had a full-time job. We had a house. How do we just leave everything and do that? We had that desire for a long time.”

The desire grew every year and the couple would even look at RVs, although they knew it wasn’t in the cards.

“But late spring, it kind of hit us both. You know, the book’s going to come out soon,” he recalled.

The parents decided to go for it and will homeschool their kids over the next year as they make their way around the country for the book tour. They even purchased their RV to make the long-term trip a reality.

“We were already up there for two weeks and did a couple of events in Massachusetts. It’s going to be too cold to be up there soon,” Mr. Bosco said. “We even went to New York City and spent a day there. I set up in Central Park and just sold a couple of books from the bench. It went well, well enough to think I needed to set up earlier. A few people walked by and just bought a book. I didn’t think it was going to work, but it worked.”

Locally, Mr. Bosco has held events aside from the recent reading at LifeCycle. He has also been hosted in Lewes and the Greenwood Public Library.

The family of six will soon leave again to head to Charlotte, N.C. and work their way south.

“We’re going to fly south for the winter. The kids love it. We got into this routine; it was a really fun experience,” he said of the road trip.

Ultimately, he hopes promoting the book will draw enough excitement to have an animated children’s show created from its pages.

“So far, so good. We’ve been very fortunate. A lot of people have come into our life who really want to help promote it. We’ll use all the help we can get. We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback which has been very, very good,” he said.

“The Sloppy Okapi” is available online at TheSloppyOkapi.com. Copies can be found locally in Kid’s Catch in Lewes, Wilderlove Handmade and Vintage store in Greenwood or Linda Vista real estate services in Seaford.

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at mc@newszap.com

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