For Erika Baty, Des Moines will always be at home. So when it came time to launch her first children’s book, “Chocolates”, she knew exactly where she wanted to be.
“I had to debut here,” said Baty, 39, now living in San Diego, as she signed a copy of her book at the World Food & Music Festival on Saturday.
“This is my hometown.”
Baty, a graduate of Roosevelt High School and the University of Iowa, partnered with her husband and award-winning illustrator Damon Renthrope to create the book, which was published last month and will soon be available online.
Its theme? Inclusiveness, diversity, love, empowerment and, of course, chocolate.
“We all come in different shades of chocolate,” Baty said.
“Sometimes we’re sweet, sometimes we’re a little nutty, sometimes a little bitter,” she continued with a chuckle.
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Growing up in Des Moines, Baty said she had a global influence which was instrumental in her inspiration to publish “Chocolates”.
“There’s a lot of diversity here. I grew up with a diverse group of friends from all over. And in Roosevelt people spoke a lot of different languages,” Baty said.
“Chocolates” is for all ages. And it’s not just dedicated to all chocolate lovers, but to “our upcoming little cocoa bean … our first child,” said Baty, who is pregnant.
Being back in Des Moines was like a “mini-reunion,” Baty said. His friends and family stopped by his booth at the festival to offer their support.
Baty’s mother, Constance Baty Brewton, 70, of Pleasant Hill, said the book’s message – “it’s all-inclusive no matter what you look like” – is important.
“That’s all love. More love – that’s what we need in the world,” she said.
Baty hopes to sell his book in chocolate shops across the country in addition to online sales. And on September 26, she signs another book at the Chocolaterie Stam on Ingersoll Avenue.
Baty also pledged to donate 12 meals to hungry children around the world for every book purchased, she said. On Friday alone, she sold around 250 pounds at the World Food Festival, which equates to 3,000 meals.