MC student and professor collaborate on children’s Christmas book

Dec. 11, 2013
Contact: Chelsea Morgan ‘13, Communications Assistant

Few people can say they’ve published a book, and even fewer can say they’ve illustrated one.

Lisa Soland, playwright and adjunct instructor of theatre at Maryville College, recently published a children’s book titled The Christmas Tree Angel, and she asked Maryville College art major Bethany Badeaux ‘15 to provide the artwork.

After completing a series of interviews and audition drawings, Soland chose Badeaux to illustrate the children’s Christmas story. The book, released Oct. 1, features 12 illustrations by Badeaux.

According to the Maryville College junior, the illustration process has been inspiring, as well as exciting.

“I just kept thinking, ‘Oh my gosh. Is this real?’’’ Badeaux said. “Not many 21-year-olds can say that they have work published in a children's book. It not only looks good on my part, but it is also something I can look back on for inspiration and guidance on where I go with my career path.”

While Badeaux does not have any long-term vocational goals, she looks forward to what opportunities may arise from this experience.

“I am hoping that The Christmas Tree Angel will open up many doors for me in the future,” she said. “I have been able to promote myself and my artwork more since this opportunity, though.”

Badeaux is currently considering portraiture and is working on artwork for a friend’s album. The daughter of Todd and Kimberly Badeaux, she is a 2011 graduate of Farragut High School.

For Soland, the book’s release in October punctuates many years of working on the book, the concept and its final format as a children’s story.

“It was a story in my head that simply ran itself over and over in my head until I listened to it, and took the time to write it down,” Soland said. “No decision necessary. It made me tell it.”

The Christmas Tree Angel is an inspirational holiday story about an angel ornament that is given to a family on Christmas Eve, Soland said.

“Once placed on the tree, the angel meets new friends who share the news of what will become of them when Christmas is over,” according to the book description. “Determined to escape the dreaded storage box, the angel and the soldier work together on an idea that just might bring them the freedom and purpose they desire.”

Soland said she wrote the book more than 14 years ago. Encouraged by a director friend to write the book into a stage drama, she recorded it and distributed it to the Braille Institute and LA Children's Hospitals for children who were sick during the holiday season.

“But as a book, it stayed, gathering dust, under my bed until I met Jim Johnston with Celtic Cat Publishing,” she said. “It took his encouragement to then publish the story as a book.”

According to Soland, the book maintains a universal appeal and attracts readers of all ages.

“I read the story to children while getting it ready to publish,” Soland said. “Children seem to resonate with this angel that decides her life is more valuable than being stuck inside a box for 362 days a year. They also like that she is willing to work hard to obtain her life purpose.

“They say the book is for third grade and up to adult,” Soland continued. “The theme is ‘Seeking one's purpose with persistence through faith,’and we can all identify with that.”

A renowned playwright, Soland has produced and/or directed more than 80 theatrical productions and play readings, 55 of which have been original. Her newest play, “The Sniper’s Nest,” premiered at the Clayton Center for the Arts in November 2012.

The Christmas Tree Angel is available for purchase through the Maryville College bookstore or at For additional information, contact Soland via email at

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,198.