Seven years ago, Barron Schimberg and his 5-year-old son, Sy, stopped in a local diner for breakfast. When the server handed Sy his plate of pancakes, she asked him a question that would stand out in his mind for years to come.
“Would you like a pickle with that?”
The suggested combination caught the two off guard, and they couldn’t help but laugh. Barron Schimberg suggested that “Pancakes and Pickles” would make a great title for an alphabet book, and he and Sy began to contemplate what other foods might make odd, alliterative pairings.
Over the course of the next seven years, Sy and his father periodically worked together on the book during long trips and in their free time. For each letter of the alphabet, they chose two mismatched foods, and then they would create an accompanying character and backstory for each letter.
“It was just something fun to do,” says Barron Schimberg. “We’d sit together at the computer and come up with these backstories. We never thought anything would come of it.”
Now 12, Sy recently began thinking about potential service opportunities for his upcoming bar mitzvah, and he decided “Pancakes and Pickles” was the perfect project. He and his father decided to complete the book, self-publish it and donate the proceeds to Miracle League of Manasota, a nonprofit that provides special-needs children an opportunity to play baseball.
Barron Schimberg says his family has volunteered with the organization for several years and that it seemed like an appropriate opportunity for the self-described “baseball family” to give back.
“It was a perfect fit,” says Barron Schimberg. “When we realized we could use the book to donate money to Miracle League, that became the push we needed to finally finish writing.”
Barron Schimberg presented the idea in January to the head of the illustration department at Ringling College, and 13 students divided up the work and brought the book to life.
“I was a little nervous,” says Barron Schimberg. “I didn’t know if they’d be able to capture what we had in our heads. But, they nailed it. I couldn’t ask for more.”
After officially self-publishing the book several weeks ago, Barron and Sy Schimberg have sold 24 copies so far. They say they’re both happy with the final product, and they look forward to seeing other people’s reactions.
“It’s awesome,” says Sy. “We got the final copy a few weeks ago, and I sort of couldn’t comprehend it. I think about the last seven years of it being a draft on the computer, and now it’s out there making money for people. I’m proud we finished it.”