This is not the story of a man and his little cheese shop in a far off land. This is the story of a man with an idea of a little cheese shop in a far off land and his goal-oriented journey to create a story that lasts for decades.
Kevin Rebbie of Royersford printed his first copy of Mr. Stinkas and the Little Cheese Shop in May and hasn't looked back. However, the idea of the cheese-cuttin' town savior didn't come to Rebbie over night - it took years of thinking and months of writing to come to fruition.
"I heard a phrase: 'That’s some stinky cheese,'" Rebbie said. "It stuck in my head. I wrote it down and made some notes and thought about it for 10 years, actually."
Rebbie was in the music business first, but the window of opportunity closed for him, as he described, and there was no way back in.
"Never wrote again," he said. "My wife said, 'You’ve got a book in you. You write it before you die.' That’s what happened. She asked me questions and I started formulating the story, like his name. As I was writing it, that’s how the story was unfolding. I got the idea of him saving his town from the fog, hence the town, Fog Free."
Most compelling, though, is the fact that Rebbie and his wife, Monica, decided to donate a bulk of the profits to three Philadelphia-area organizations: The Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service & Education Center, The Children's Miracle Network/The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and B+ (B-Positive) - The Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation, which is a Delaware-based organization raising funds for pediatric cancer research and for families in need of financial aid in light of their child's cancer treatments.
Kevin decided to write the book in 2009 and shortly after, he heard the WMGK Radiothon while stuck in the daily commute on the Schuylkill. The Radiothon supports the veteran's house annually. Kevin immediately called in to donate.
"I came home to my wife and said 'When we get this book to print, I don’t care if it’s a penny, a nickel or a dime of the royalties – it’s going to be each book – they get something,'" he said. "They survive on grants and donations. That’s it."
In response, Monica asked her husband to consider including the miracle network, along with B+, which she heard about on Fox 29. He was pleased to do so.
"She’s one of the gracious most giving people I’ve ever met," said Kevin of his wife. "I’m looking for the money for the electric bill and she sent it off to help somebody."
The two have seven kids, most grown up; however, Kevin had a children's book in his brain and a children's book he would write. So, he and Monica sneaked off to the Casual Gourmet every Saturday and Sunday for breakfast and to write the book.
"Our kids just thought we were being selfish because we would be there for three hours," Kevin said. "I would write a stance and we’d go home. The next day, I’d write a stance and we’d go home. Then the next week, I’d think about the story and then that’s what we did for about three months. Our kids didn’t know what we were doing. We kept it a secret."
The couple did all the business at The Limerick Diner, working on how to get it to print, the direction they were going and contacting people. The two started their own publishing company, Not So Publishing to get the book out. Then, they employed the help of their daughter, Laura Bluett, a 2006 Spring-Ford graduate, who specializes in animation. Bluett brought Stinkas to life through image in the 63-page "children's spectacular."
"Without her, the book wouldn’t come to print," said Kevin. "All of her illustrations really made the book come alive through a collaboration of the three of us."
Kevin was able to share two minutes of airtime with John DeBella of WMGK at the latest Radiothon to talk about his book. He enjoyed laughing and talking about his project in conjunction with the veteran's house. He later went on to continue talks with the three organizations and made it his goal to sell three million copies and to divvy out $1.5 million to each organization.
"We reach this point, then we as supporters of the charities, can go to these charities and do other work," Kevin said. "We’ll have the time, have the means and go to any events they have. That’s what we want to do. It’s not hey I wrote a book and I’m going to sit on a pile of money. That’s not it."
Through the Internet, talking to everyone they see on the streets, in stores and across the globe, the couple hopes to make Stinkas a household name, like Dr. Seuss's famed masterpiece Green Eggs and Ham. By doing so, they also hope to make it a special bonding mechanism for parents and kids to share.
"One thing about it is it’s fun for parents and kids to read," Monica said. "Parents are going to chuckle, too. I read a lot of bedtime stories to the kids and sometimes I want to flip through the pages and skip stuff. If it’s fun for parents, then they’re going to read it to their kids."
The book comes with a CD that the author recommends listening to the first time, as it has sounds that go with the story, while being told by an Irish fellow. The sounds are marked in the book with a red asterisk.
The couple plans for plenty of book signings and readings to young children, while they bring along their own Mr. Stinkas mascot, magnets and cards for kids to enjoy and even Mr. Stinkas backpacks. The marketing is only the beginning to the long journey the Rebbie's wish to take in children's hearts.
The book can be purchased here, or by calling 1-877-BUY-BOOK.