Guest Blog – Local Author Alissa Cottrill with ‘A is for Appleton’

We welcome guest blog appearances from all walks of life. We are happy to feature artists, adventurers, writers, and anyone with a story to tell!

This week we are excited to give the spot light to Alissa Cottrill! The author who created a fun local themed children’s book titled ‘A is for Appleton’! We were happy to support this project with some fun photos! Read on for insight on the origins of this local project!

Heads-Up: Alissa will have a booth at tomorrows [May 19th] indoor farmers market Downtown Appleton! You can also reach out to purchase a book through email =



A is for Appleton made its first debut as a gift for my sister-in-law, Katie, and my, then soon-to-be, sweet nephew, Archer. The content of the book came from her love of all things local. As I was creating the gift I imagined her reading to her new babe telling him all about the ABCs, their wonderful community, and her experiences had. After the original was gifted, my family encouraged me to publish the book. Two years of debating and lots of internal pep talks later, I took the first step.

When starting out I had zero exposure. It was intimidating and exhilarating at the same time. I began to contact the local businesses to ask their permission and to share my book project with them. With my husband and son in tow, we visited many of the places throughout the book and we took pictures – lots of them! It was a great time spent engaging with and supporting our community. The conversations had and the family time spent out and about are moments I wouldn’t trade for anything. Next came the search for a printing company, book layout, page design, business set-up, and a bunch of other legal requirements I never would have known how to navigate through without the assistance and support of so many. One of the very best perks of this book project was the time spent with my sister, Gayle Cottrill. She, patiently, walked me through InDesign and Photoshop (neither of which I had ever used!), she was a sounding board for pretty much every decision, and she let me hang out at her kitchen table – a lot. In my opinion, these moments had already made this project a success.

Which brings me to now, with the published work in hand and excitement for phase two: Sharing! I’ve just begun and already know it’s going to be even better than imagined. My first customer interaction, at the downtown indoor farm market, was incredible. As he began to page through he shared a few stories of how he could relate to the images. My favorite was him recalling walking to school, as a young boy, and being able to stop at the previous Manderfield’s location along the way. It brought back his memories of picking out a cookie or doughnut before school and, as we talked, I realized this conversation was exactly the type of positive interaction I hoped this book would create. I’m looking forward to others I will be able to meet and talk with but I am also excited for the community support that A is for Appleton has imbedded throughout its pages.

Interaction is a powerful thing and, when it happens to take place in our immediate surroundings, with those who are part of our same community bubble, it can create positive waves from one to another. I hope A is for Appleton can encourage us to continue to support, talk with, and experience our days with those we live among. Please enjoy and after reading, take it to the next level and attempt the Appleton scavenger challenge: Can you visit each local place, from A to Z?

Happy exploring,
Alissa Williams

Book Report: Paddle-to-the-Sea

Book Title and Author: Paddle-to-the-Sea by Holling Clancy Holling

Main idea of story: A young boy carves a wood paddler in a canoe and sets him off on a voyage through the Great Lakes to reach the Sea! Follow Paddle’s adventure as he visits a new location on every page!

Main characters in the book:

  • Paddle to the Sea – A wooden carving of an Indian figure in a canoe
  • Young Boy – The creator of the wooden carving who sets him on his course
  • Plus dozens of friendly supporters he bumps into along the adventure

Something unique and interesting about the story/book for readers to know: The art work on every page is vivid and beautiful!

Favorite part of the story/book and why: Paddle’s exciting journeys in sometimes risky situations keep you on your toes! You are exposed to the true nature of wilderness adventures – beautiful, life-changing, and even a bit scary!

Was this book entertaining, educational, amusing, etc?: Paddle to the Sea is a fun and entertaining story – you will find yourself rooting for him to make it through the Great Lakes all the way to the Sea! Along the way, learn about the communities, wildlife, and industries throughout the region.

Would you recommend this book?: Absolutely! This book is great for young or old and anyone in between!


Also, Check out this fun activity recommended in the book for families and/or students!



“Here is geography presented with freshness and originality and imagination. Younger children respond to the idea of the small canoe making its long voyage to the sea, older readers are delighted by the fine sweep of country the book shows them.”

The New York Times

“Striking at first sight, compelling attention to the last, this is more than a bright colored picture book. It carries a cargo of information and moves with a purpose. The little traveler will…teach many children many things.”

The New York Herald Tribune

Bright Gear for Safer Paddling!

As the weather gets nicer more people head out on the water! Kayaks, Stand Up Paddle boards, and all different kinds of boats will soon be floating around. Everyone is looking to have a good time and we wanted to put out a friendly reminder to stay visible out on the water! This means wearing bright gear so you can be seen before its too late!


Our entire fleet was selected with safety in mind! We use brightly colored kayaks, paddles and PFDs! Similar to motorcycles on the road – it is smart for a kayaker to wear bright gear for boaters to take notice.

Being visible in rescue situations is crucial as well. Sometimes the difference between life and death is simply “being seen”. On a lighter note – brighter colors are fun and cooler in the sun! Stay safe out there!

You have successfully subscribed!

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

Fox River Kayaking Company will ONLY use the information you provide on this form to email updates/news, events, and latest blog article publications.