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Meet the Wishaphants

Since they were on the same page about what The Wishaphants should stand for and convey, Rea gave DeWitt the freedom to write about whatever he wanted.

"I started thinking about each character and traits they could have and I couldn't get them off my mind; for me, it's a good sign that it's something I'm going to want to write about," said DeWitt.

Besides nutrition, DeWitt will tackle school bullying and loss. He said the books will keep kids' interest with humor and relatable situations.

"I want to create a good picture book for kids that will get them excited about reading but also something they can learn from as well," said DeWitt. "I think they're really good, the characters, and the kids will absolutely love [them]."

DeWitt thinks The Wishaphants books will be especially effective because as an educator, he regularly experiences what he's writing about.

"These are the things I see day in and day out. I spent 11 years as a teacher and the past five as a principal, so I like to think I know what schools need," said DeWitt.

The Wishaphants will officially launch on April 9 at the Albany Children's Book Festival held at the Albany Academies. Ataro, the 6-foot mascot, will lead a parade of characters and children will be introduced to both the book and a theme song. Dewitt will be a keynote speaker.

"We'll use the mascot at various promotions and festivals we want to do throughout the year with these characters," said Rea.

Rea is planning to use the Capital Region as a "test market" for 15 months to two years before branching out.

"We want to get really well known in the Capital District and grow it out of this region to other parts of the country," said Rea. "Our ultimate goal is to have an animated cartoon series."

Once the Wishaphant clan makes a name for itself, Rea is planning to create themed products that will be the for-profit side of the business venture.

Rea is looking for underwriters and is encouraging anybody who might be interested to contact him at blakerea13@aol.com. Wishaphants.com is under construction but will eventually provide information about the characters and books.

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