The Twelve Months of Michigan

by Dr. Jessie Voigts /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture
Feb 08, 2014 / 0 comments

I'm a Michigander through and through. Born here, I travel and move away and then always seem to come back home. It must be something in the water! And, I'm always looking for great Michigan books and products to share. I was recently sent a review copy of an ADORABLE children's book, written and illustrated by Michigan author/artist AnnieMarie Chiaverilla. Entitled The Twelve Months of Michigan, it's a joyful, friendly look at the things that make Michigan great - from Motown to the Lakes. It's a visual treat, one that will make readers happy - and teaches about Michigan, along the way. And I have to tell you, when you order one of these books, it comes with envelope artwork just for YOU! WOW!


12 Months of Michigan - adorable picture book by AnnieMarie Chiaverilla


We caught up with AnnieMarie to discover the backstory of this lovely book - here's what she had to say...


12 Months of Michigan - HOMES!


Please tell us about your book...

Well, I would say its a love story. That would be my heart talking. My girlfriend, Mary McGuire, told me she thought it was a family fun book... I put that line on the back of the book in the upper left cloud. Perfect, the cloud.
When I first tell people about my book, I tell them it is a book that talks about traveling throughout the state of Michigan, learning about the state and experiencing the beauty of Michigan and about traveling with your family. The car rides up north were an adventure, especially with five kids... I am the youngest.


12 Months of Michigan - ROAD TRIP!


What inspired you to write this book?

Wow, many things. The story behind the book started over 20 years ago when one of my best friends, Jackie DeCosmo, said that we should exchange hand drawn books for each other for Christmas. Gracie Lew, another pal of ours, would be included too. My dream after deciding not to be a nurse was to be a children's illustrator/author and put the words to music. Jackie suggested The Twelve Days Of Christmas. I dove in. I drew a simple character that was me telling the story of my true love... I discovered some Doc Martin dies in the studio (we worked at Channel 7 WXYZ Detroit) and started experimenting with them. I have no formal training in the paint world, I am a designer by trade. Gosh.. anyhow. I dove into the project. Drew the illustrations, very simple. Got some Strathmore paper and cut it down to 8.8 x 11 and printed enough for 50 copies. I channel bound them at Kinkos, it worked perfectly. Gave them out for Christmas, they were a big hit. For 20 years my dad has been bugging me to make more. Time passes, kids come along, I don't have the money, etc.... Than last year, my girlfriend Moira's (one of my best friends, known her since 3rd grade) daughter dies, that crushes you, and than my dad's cancer came back, this time behind his eye. (Thus the patch over Pirate Paul's eye. He really wears a patch.)

So, I had developed my little girl character in the twenty years that passed, had an agent in Minnesota interested in her and her cast of characters... too many to mention. I contacted her and ask if I could produce the Twelve Days Of Christmas, she wasn't pleased because I wasn't finished with my assignment from her. So, I decided to invent a new character... Pirate Paul and Ana Mae Mouse, my parents. I found a printing source in America to print, on paper made in America and created in Michigan. My dad's best friend fronted me the money for the printing. I must mention my siblings, too!


12 Months of Michigan


Your drawings are beautiful - what is your background?

My background is in graphic design, but illustration, cartooning is my thing. You can see my design portfolio at if you like.


12 Months of Michigan


How did you choose which parts of Michigan to showcase?

Mostly from growing up and traveling up north. My family likes to walk, walk the trails, walk the shores. We were so lucky to have friends up north that would invite us to stay with them, The Bynoes on Mackinac Island and the Reeces on Drummond. Plus ,every summer since I was 10 we have camped in Port Crescent with our cousins. 15 First Cousins, so we had a blast. I also am a tomboy at heart and a love for the outdoors. My brother was a science teacher for a while, too. He would take me out in the woods and tell me about it.

I first went online and looked at the symbols and tried to use them as a guide. Michigan has certain things that are unique. The Car industry, Woodward Dream Cruise, the Port Huron to Mac Sailing and the Chicago to Mackinac race, a state that loves sports, the Motown Sound came out of Detroit, we are the Cherry Capital, Asparagus, Apples, Peaches, soy beans, sugar beets, etc, now were are trying to be Wine Country.. not a fan yet of the wine, but the sparkling Cider is great. You can notice a mouse holding a glass of sparkling wine in the 10th month. My mom's apple pie recipe is included - it is awesome, and she's a great cook.


Michigan Apple Pie Recipe, 12 Months of Michigan

If you want to see a beautiful peninsula look about you. It's our state motto.. this got edited out, my editors said I had to stop the


12 Months of Michigan - Michigan facts


How can people find out more about your book - and work?

You can find it at and my portfolio site I mentioned above (pear tree portal)
The name of my company The Pear Tree Press, Inc was inspired from The Twelve Days.



Thanks, AnnieMarie! We highly recommend this book to our Wandering Educators!




All photos courtesy and copyright AnnieMarie Chiaverilla