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Local Authors Unveil New Childrens Book
At the book signing table on Saturday, Riverbank writer Jacob Haslem autographs a copy of his new children's book as co-author and friend Nick Allen, also of Riverbank, looks on. The signing was part of the book launch for The Gift Giver, at childrens title released in time for the upcoming holiday season. The project took over two years to pull together, including working with an illustrator who lives in Texas. Ric McGinnis/The News


Two Riverbank friends have completed a two-year quest to create and sell a children’s book that is now finished and available for sale, just in time for the upcoming holiday season.

Jacob Haslem and Nick Allen have co-authored ‘The Gift Giver,’ a story that sheds light on the mystery of how Santa Claus came to be, and why he gives gifts.

A launch party was held at the Village Bakery in Modesto on Saturday, Sept. 26, with copies of the book for sale and the authors available to autograph them.

Surrounded by friends, family and an expectant crowd eager to see the new book, Haslem took time out to read from it to the children (and their parents) gathered around.

Nearby, wives Whitney and Kelsi, respectively, staffed the sales table for their author husbands.

Allen noted, “‘The Gift Giver’ is a story book meant to help parents teach their families about the true meaning of Christmas by defining the motives and origin of the man we call Santa Claus.

“Told with vivid and iconic images, the veil of mystery is pulled back, revealing the true reason why Father Christmas gives gifts to the pure of heart.”

The illustrator, Elissa Weaver, is a student at Texas A&M University, studying Visualization. Allen said she has just left Texas for Georgia, where she landed an internship.

The trio hope that their book will become a traditional holiday read for families both young and old, who will cherish this powerful story. It melds deeply-held beliefs with youthful wonder and excitement, according to the authors.

More information about the project is available at their website,, with more background on the authors, the illustrator and the project. Those interested can purchase the book through the site, as well. There is a traditional hard back version and a soft cover version, with some illustrations across facing pages.