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Father/daughter duo publishes children’s book

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Hanna and Joe Carter have combined talents and interests to release their first children’s book “Marshall T. Trowel and Family – Concrete – Work Hard. Work Together.” Set in Marshalltown, the story follows a family of tools as they learn that teamwork is what gets the job done.

Hanna and Joe Carter have combined talents and interests to release their first children’s book “Marshall T. Trowel and Family – Concrete – Work Hard. Work Together.” Set in Marshalltown, the story follows a family of tools as they learn that teamwork is what gets the job done.

Joe, who wrote the text of the book, has served as President/CEO of MARSHALLTOWN, 104 S. 8th Ave., since 1998. Founded in 1890, the company manufactures tools and equipment in the construction trades, notably its trowels. He graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in industrial engineering and from the University of Arkansas with a law degree. Joe’s first book, a history of the MARSHALLOWN company, was published in 2015. Hanna, who did the illustrations, works as a freelance graphic designer in Portland, Oregon.

The book’s mission is to help get kids interested in the construction trades.

“The inspiration comes from the ‘Johnny Tractor’ books John Deere put out and the ‘Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel’ book,” Joe said. “My wife Janelle and I used to love to read to our kids when they were little.”

The idea for the book was born in 2002 when Joe first put pen to paper, mapping out his story and characters. He set the project aside for 16 years. Then in 2018, he decided he wanted to finally publish his story, with the help of his daughter.

“When we were children, there weren’t a ton of children’s books about the construction industry, and especially not ones that really walked through the processes of different projects. I think my dad saw that gap, and between loving his work at MARSHALLTOWN and wanting to create something that his own kids could enjoy, he felt like he might be the guy to give it a go,” Hanna said.

Some of the book’s characters are named after Joe’s three children, receiving the names Sammy Screed, Hanna Hand Float and Mike Margin Trowel.

“I didn’t think my wife would want to be a character in the book,” Joe joked.

Joe’s text comes alive with Hanna’s colorful illustrations.

“I probably wouldn’t have tackled a project like this so early in my career without his enthusiasm and support,” Hanna said. “It’s not often that a father-daughter team can work together on something like this — especially since we work in such vastly different industries. I’m really grateful that I got to make something so fun with him.”

A portion of the book sales will be given to tornado relief and Marshalltown High School for the expansion of a vocational studies program.

The duo plans to make the book into a series.

“Our first book is on concrete, the next one, on drywall, has been written and Hanna is working on illustrating it, followed by a book on bricks then tiling,” Joe said. “We’re a big name in the archeology market. What we would call a pointing trowel, they call a MARSHALLTOWN, so there have been requests from the archeologists already that we should come out with an archeology book as well.”

Hanna and Joe will have a story time and book signing event from 4:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. April 3 at the Marshalltown Public Library. Books will be available for purchase.

The book is also available on Amazon and marshalltown.com.