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‘The Little Boy and the Big Fish’ will reel in donations for opera singers

Swantje Knye-Levin’s children’s book “The Little Boy and the Big Fish” is based on an original bedtime story she told her two boys more than 30 years ago.
Courtesy of Swantje Knye-Levin

Orders of Swantje Knye-Levin’s children’s book, “The Little Boy and the Big Fish” can be made by LittleBoyandtheBigFish@gmail.com for a donation of $25. Proceeds of the Utah sales will benefit the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in Salt Lake City.

Swantje Knye-Levin wants to share a family story and benefit the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in Utah and Florida.

The part-time Park City resident and new author, who splits her time between Park City and Orlando, just self-published her first children’s book, “The Little Boy and the Big Fish.”

The book is available on a donation basis. The money from Utah donations will benefit the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions that will be held next month in Salt Lake City, and the money from Florida donations will be donated to the upcoming auditions in Florida.

“The singers are in dire straits this year because they can’t perform due theater closings from (because of) COVID-19,” said Knye-Levin, who is president of the Metropolitan Opera National Council in Orlando. “The opera world is small in the United States and some of the singers from Orlando have performed in Utah and vice versa.”

“The Little Boy and the Big Fish” is based on a bedtime tale she would tell her sons, Kyle and Brent.

The story is about a boy whose pet fish grows so big that a crane and dump truck are called in to move it.

“I came up with the story when my older son Kyle was 2 ½ and 3 years old,” Knye-Levin said. “We lived outside Orlando where there was a lot of construction going on in our community, and he was absolutely fascinated with the cranes, lorries and backhoes.”

When she told the story, both Kyle and Brent, who are now 35 and 33, would make Knye-Levin use her arms and hands to act out the story.

“Both kids would reach up and make my hand into a claw and told me to make the noises,” she said.

At that time, her sons wanted a pet.

“I was working, and having a pet would be hard for us to take care of,” Knye-Levin said. “So I told him he could get one when he was a little older, and when they did, they bought a fish.”

The idea to turn her story into a book came about more than two years ago when she met local artist and author Samantha Simon, known for her book, “Utah for Kids,” at the Kimball Art Center Ceramic Studio.

“Samantha just doesn’t make plates and pottery,” Knye-Levin said. “She’s a true artist who makes sculptures and paints.”

The two got on well, and Knye-Levin thought Simon’s watercolors would fit the book.

“I asked Samantha, and she loved the idea,” Knye-Levin said. “In fact, if Samantha would not have been involved, I would probably not have done it, because I had no idea what I was getting into.”

What Knye-Levin thought would take a couple of months took more than a couple of years. Her first graphic designer lived in England.

“All the programs we used between my computer and the graphic artist’s computer and Sam’s computer were different,” Knye-Levin said. “So every time we would send our pages back and forth, they all looked different.”

So, after another search, the author landed on Orlando-based illustrator Kate Carney, who designed the book.

The next step was printing.

“Through my work with the Metropolitan Opera vocal competitions in Orlando, I have a friend who owns a printing business,” Knye-Levin said. “She printed me 100 copies.”

During the packing, a crew member read the book and noticed a typo.

“So we had to do a second printing, which I paid for,” Knye-Levin said. “Before we sent the book to press, we made some more adjustments. And I’m happy how it turned out.”


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