Ryeson Bull’s brave and adorable journey to become an author
My five-year-old son, Ryeson Bull, and I just launched our first children’s book, titled Randall the Blue Spider Goes Surfing. The adorable story teaches young children how to name their fears and overcome them by offering simple coping mechanisms … and lots of silliness!
Randall the Blue Spider Goes Surfing is available on Amazon and in a few Contra Costa County retailers, including Wish Walnut Creek and Flashlight Books in downtown Walnut Creek.
Ryeson was born with cystic fibrosis, a hereditary disease that impacts his lungs and digestive system. The ocean has always been a special place for our family, because salt air is good for his lungs. Aside from beach trips, Rye loves reading, hiking and playing outside with friends and random sticks he finds on the ground.
By the time baby Ryeson was smiling, he was telling stories with his actions and arms while crawling around—because he couldn’t get anywhere quickly enough. By age two he had memorized Goodnight Moon, and could repeat every line—yelling, of course. Because kids with CF have a harder time gaining weight, he has a feeding tube that he uses at breakfast and dinner to get extra calories, which he tends to burn off because he is so active.
Ryeson was only two and a half when our family took an emergency trip to Long Beach to visit his grandpa, who was in the hospital due to a cycling accident. Because of Ryeson’s cystic fibrosis, he wasn’t able to go into the ICU because of the danger of germs; so I took him to a playground at the beach while Rye’s dad visited his family in the Long Beach hospital.
After seeing surfers at the Seal Beach pier, Ryeson began rambling about how it would be funny to see a spider go surfing, but that it might be nervous if people were watching. I began asking him questions like, “What would you do if you were nervous?” as I recorded his musings, and Randall the Blue Spider Goes Surfing was born.
The book stayed on my notes app on my phone for more than three years, until the summer of 2020, when I was bedridden due to cancer treatments and had to say goodbye to many of my social media marketing and freelance writing clients. I connected with an indie book publisher, East 26th Publishing—which handles all of the wholesale orders for the book—and a graphic designer, Brady Lovell of Fat Tabby Studio, to turn the story of a surfing spider into a reality.
Both the story of Randall the Blue Spider Goes Surfing and the story of how the book was made have a happy ending—my cancer is gone, and Ryeson’s grandpa recovered.
Randall the Blue Spider Goes Surfing is for kids of all ages who love outdoor activities, bugs—spiders especially, ice cream and friends. It’s also for kids who aren’t fans of bugs—just watch as Randall wins their hearts, and spiders like him suddenly seem less scary. In addition to being a cute tale, the book teaches simple coping skills.
To find more information on how to purchase the first book in the Randall & Friends children’s book series, learn about wholesale orders, read blog posts on how to teach kids empathy and sharing, or simply download free printables of Randall the Blue Spider—and the breakout favorite character, Crabby—head to RandalltheBlueSpider.com, or connect on Instagram at Instagram.com/RandallTheBlueSpider.
Ryeson’s mama and the co-author of “Randall the Blue Spider Goes Surfing,” Shana Bull, is a digital marketer and freelance writer with a focus on travel, food, wine, music and family life. Shana loves elaborate cheese boards, low-alcohol wines and craft beers, and adventures with her family. She can be found at ShanaBull.com.