Boston Latin School graduate Kathleen Chardavoyne has written a children’s book honoring the historic legacy of former Mayor Thomas Menino called “Goodbye, Mayor Menino.”
“I read a lot of children’s books and love when an author manages to convey something of meaning, historical or otherwise,” said Chardavoyne, a first-time author who recently left a corporate career to focus on raising her children. “As the mayor was preparing to leave office, it struck me that his 20 years leading Boston were incredibly meaningful to the city.”
So Chardavoyne decided to commemorate Menino’s long tenure with a story. She received encouragement from her family and an agreement from her cousin, illustrator Christine Winship, to collaborate on the book.
Chardavoyne did not know Menino, but had family ties. Her sister-in-law worked under Menino at the City’s Office of Arts, Tourism and Special Events. Her husband, Mark Chardavoyne, previously worked at Suffolk Construction, a company whose leaders are famously close to Menino and once employed his son.
Through her sister-in-law, Chardavoyne sent a prototype copy of the book to Menino while he was still in office. She learned that Menino enjoyed it.
“That gave me the green light to try and print it affordably,” she said.
The book consists of verses about Menino printed over watercolor illustrations of him and the city. “Our mayor would not back down from a challenge/ And built up a city to envy,” it reads in part.
A launch party at a Dorchester Farmers Market last month—attended by Menino— unfortunately coincided with Menino’s announcement of his advanced cancer diagnosis.
“We were all so honored by his attendance and felt blessed to be there amid an emotional outpouring of support for him. His good spirits and geniality were uplifting and inspiring to everyone there,” Chardavoyne said. “He seemed to love the reading and looked delighted to be alongside the audience of adorable children.”
It seemed as though Menino was more amused than anything by the awkward timing.
“The [former] mayor himself quipped ‘What an appropriate title that is!’ at the farmer’s market,” she said. “Still, I really wish I had called it ‘Thank You, Mayor Menino.’”
Chardavoyne added that she is planning on renaming the book if there’s a second edition.
Though she is still working on self-publishing, Chardavoyne said she expects the book to be available for $15 at barnesandnoble.com by the end of the month. A second signing event is planned for April 27 in Jamaica Plain.
A preview of the whole book is available at bit.ly/goodbyeMeninoBook.