Love Gulfport? So do husband and wife duo Nancy and Roger Hoffman. They love it so much, they’ve used it as a backdrop for their recently published children’s book, “The Saltwater Kids on Boca Ciega Bay.” With Nancy as the writer and Roger as illustrator, the book tells the story of houseboat-dwelling twins, Art and Minnie, as they adventure in Gulfport and prepare for a hurricane.
The illustrations and text work together to spotlight multiple locations in Gulfport, including Gulfport Beach, O’Maddy’s, the Gulfport Fire Station, the Gulfport Casino and Beach Bazaar.
“My parents used to dance at the Casino,” said Nancy. “It’s very nostalgic for me.”
“We lived in Gulfport down by the water for a short period of time and we really loved it,” said Roger.
“We started this really seriously about eight years ago,” said Nancy, talking about her professional collaboration with husband Roger. “But when I was in college I had to write a children’s book and I had Roger illustrate it and I got an A.”
Roger has been illustrating “all our married life,” said Nancy, who’s also been a writer for years. In 2010, the pair self-published two picture books, but their current Saltwater Kids series is a more dedicated venture.
“We get along great,” said Nancy. “The best part is bouncing ideas off each other and being honest.”
While their other two titles were self published, “The Saltwater Kids on Boca Ciega Bay” was published by Reader Publishing Group, a company close to the Hoffman’s hearts. Reader Publishing Group is owned by the Hoffman’s cousins, George and Carmela Cunningham, who also inspired characters in the book. While reviewing a contract from another publisher, the Cunninghams said, “Well why don’t you just let us publish it?”
“From what I’ve heard from family and friends, it’s been very well received,” said Nancy. Two more books are in the works for the Saltwater Kids series, with the second title being “Casting Call.” That story will feature Thurgood Marshall Middle School.
The 88-page chapter book is available for purchase on Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and at Main House Antiques on 38th Ave. North in St. Petersburg. The Hoffmans will also do a reading at Barnes and Noble in November (date and time to be announced) and copies of the book will be available there as well.
Another book reading at Northwest Elementary’s Reading Festival is also in the works.