Southwest Human Development introduces the ‘Up Up Up’ children’s book

HALE-001 dust jacket template by text size 203x203 32 pagesA great book is more than just a read. It’s a step up for a child’s imagination and development. To help improve early literacy and put more high-quality children’s books in the hands of young kids, Southwest Human Development, one of the nation’s largest nonprofits dedicated to early childhood development, recently published its first-ever children’s book, Up Up Up.

Written by Phoebe Fox and illustrated by Michael Hale, Up Up Up is a story about a fanciful trip taken up an elevator by a lovable cast of animals on their way to a friend’s birthday party.

Up Up Up is available for sale at and will begin shipping in September. The book will also be available in a variety of retail and online outlets, including and Changing Hands Bookstore.

As part of Southwest Human Development’s commitment to early childhood literacy, sales of Up Up Up will also include a “buy one, give one” concept where the nonprofit will donate a book to a child or family in need for each book sold.

“We were overwhelmed by how many entries we received when we launched this contest,” said Jake Adams, chief development officer at Southwest Human Development. “As a parent who reads to a 2-year-old every night at bedtime, I’ve learned that it is important to have a book that I can interact with my son around the story and pictures. I really enjoy finding books like Up Up Up where I can not only help my son develop literacy skills, but also discover something new myself each time I read it.”

Fox is a Phoenix native, author, school librarian and mother of three who has always lived a life rich with children’s books. The idea for Up Up Up came to her when she remembered how much her toddlers loved elevators.

“They especially enjoyed riding the glass elevator at the Burton Barr Library in downtown Phoenix,” Fox said.

Thinking that animals crowding into an elevator would make a very playful children’s story, Fox wrote a manuscript and entered it into Southwest Human Development’s inaugural First Edition Children’s Book Contest. More than 250 entries were submitted to the contest, with Up Up Up selected as the winning entry.

“My passion for children’s literature developed in elementary school,” said Fox. “I love to collect children’s books and write them, so this opportunity to submit the manuscript for Up Up Up was very exciting for me.”

Hale has more than 25 years of experience as an illustrator, copywriter and concept designer. Most well known for his work as the creative director for the Phoenix Zoo’s Zoo Lights, and experiences designing numerous Fiesta Bowl floats, exhibits for the Arizona Science Center, and a playground at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Hale decided to put his creativity to work on one of his favorite things—children’s books.

“Looking back at my work and all of the things I enjoyed the most, I knew what I really wanted to do was create for children,” he said.

Southwest Human Development’s First Edition Project Editor Michelle Parker-Rock brought Hale on board to illustrate the story.

“The marriage between the simple text and the character-driven illustrations is what makes this a perfect choice for very young readers,” says Parker-Rock. “The humor and charm makes it something that both children and adults will enjoy.”

Learn more about Up Up Up and other upcoming First Edition Project initiatives at