It is a long way from Roxbury, Conn., to Sedalia, but for bestselling children’s author Billy Steers and his wife Julie, it is one they gladly took to be a part of the International Collectors Club Red Power Roundup.
Steers is the author of the “Tractor Mac” series of children’s books. He has written 11 storybooks, an activity book and will publish a “flap book” — a book that when you lift a portion of the page an illustration is revealed under the flap — later this summer.
“I’ve been writing the books now for over 15 years,” Steers said. “They started out as bedtime stories for our three sons. I think we’re paying for their college tuition one book at a time,” Steers added with a smile.
The books tell the story of Tractor Mac and his friends who live with him on the farm.
“I grew up on a hobby farm,” Steers said. “My parents had nine acres and we had sheep and horses and other animals.”
It is from his experience on the farm as a young boy that Steers created the ideas for the stories.
“All of the books have a lesson to them,” Steers said. “I try not to get too preachy, but I write about themes such as friendship and how to work together, things that we all face in life.”
Steers said his first book, “Tractor Mac Arrives at the Farm,” was special to him because authors always like to see their name on the spine of a book. His favorite work though is “You’re a Winner.”
“You never really like to say you have a favorite,” Steers said. “I do like the message of that book though. It is about how losing isn’t the end of everything.”
Steers draws upon his family as an inspiration for his work as well. Farmer Bill and Mrs. Jay, two main characters in the works, are based on his parents.
“At a lot of our events closer to home, Billy’s parents dress in costume and talk to the kids,” Julie Steers said. “They really enjoy doing it and the kids seem to like meeting them.”
Other family members and pets are also part of the works. The horses in the books are all named after ones Steers had as a child.
One of Steers’ friends is also the narrator for an audio book based on the series.
As part of the Red Power Roundup, Steers narrates a children’s story and illustrates it as he tells the story. He performs three times daily.
Steers is a commercial airline pilot. Attending out-of-state events such as the Red Power Roundup at times creates scheduling issues for the couple, but both said they would not miss the event.
“Case IH (International Harvester) has always been great to work with,” Steers said. “They have been very helpful with allowing me to use their name and have helped so much with our product line. They really are just great people.”
To find out more about the Tractor Mac series of books, visit tractormac.com or email [email protected]