A Lafayette mom's book series and plush toys will be included in swag bags for Oscar nominees at the Academy Awards.
Alysson Foti Bourque's Alycat collection will be given to those nominated in the top categories of the Feb. 9 awards, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Kathy Bates and Quentin Tarantino.
"I'm super excited because this could really help the brand grow not just locally but also nationally," Bourque said. "My dream would be to have an animated Alycat series, and that dream could come true with the different connections that could come from something like this. I'm excited to watch the Oscars, and I'm excited to see what kind of feedback I might get about the series afterward."
Bourque said a New York publicity firm she works with recommended her series to a Los Angeles agency for the swag bags. Those who work in the industry try to provide a wide variety of products, even children's books, to celebrities at events like this, Bourque said.
The Oscar nominees will receive all four books in the series, including "Alycat and the Tournament Tuesday," which won't be released to the public until March 17.
Bourque's newest book encourages children to rely on hard work and perseverance instead of luck to achieve goals. When Alycat's brother, Bugsy, realizes he isn't using his lucky ball at a golf tournament, he discovers his past training and practice are what he needed all along.
Bugsy's dilemma closely mirrors one faced by Bourque's 9-year-old son, Carter, who also lost his lucky golf ball ahead of a golf tournament.
Carter helped his mom create a glossary of golf terms for the book, and he modeled golf positions for the book's illustrator.
"He helped me create this book," Bourque said. "He has some ownership in it. My son has so much determination and focus for a sport that can be frustrating, so he's definitely inspired the stories in this series. He just inspires me to keep on trying."
Bourque started writing children's books about five years ago after leaving her demanding job as an assistant attorney general for the state to spend time with Carter and her daughter, Izzy, who is now 11.
The mom frequently read to her children, then 6 and 8, during their newfound time together. But even though their home's bookshelves were full, Carter and Izzy demanded more options.
Bourque had an idea. She had written plenty of trial briefs. Why not try her hand at writing children's books?
Carter and Izzy loved the first book and encouraged their mom to keep writing.
"They were awesome, so believing," Bourque said. "I sent that first book to over 100 literary agents and publishers, and finally one said yes. It turned into a journey, an experience, and I haven't gone back to practicing law, even though I still have my license."
Now, Alycat has become a franchise with stuffed animals and a mascot that help bring the books to life. The main character's namesake and traits are a nod to Bourque's childhood self.
"Alycat solves problems through her imagination or creativity," Bourque said. "She is a character who likes to daydream and is creative. When I was 8, 9, 10 years old, I would daydream in class, and my teachers would snap and say, 'Alycat, come back to Earth.' I don't consider myself to be very creative, but Alycat is. I'm enjoying the journey she's taking me on."