Coloring Contest

A new book series helps kids get outside to experience the wonder of nature and the thrill of adventure sports through its drawings.

Photo courtesy of Elyssa and Ken Nager

Colorado schools recently participated in a new way to educate kids about travel and adventure by entering its students in a coloring contest that’s now published in a children’s book. Or better yet, a series.

In September of last year, co-founders Elyssa and Ken Nager (author and creative director, respectively) released Eli and Mort’s Epic Adventures: Colorado Summer Road Trip, which features bright and colorful drawings from Coloradan kids. “Colorado schools have been very supportive of the series,” says Elyssa. “Many Colorado school art teachers have made drawing for the series part of their curriculum—the students submit their drawings for the art competition for the books.”

What a great way for kids to get involved and learn about what Colorado has to offer. “We wanted the books to be truly local,” she adds. “We wanted kids to experience all of the joy and wonder Colorado has to offer through the eyes of kids just like them.”

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Photo courtesy of Elyssa and Ken Nager

The Selection Process

Ken, Elyssa, and their illustrator Eduardo Paj were each involved in deciding on the final illustrations to be included in the books. “As there is a wide range of ages submitting drawings (seven to 19), we chose based on fit as well as technical merit-age-appropriateness, of course.” Their next book projects, Eli and Mort Learn to Ski, 1, 2, 3 We did it! and Eli and Mort the Moose coloring and activity book, are next on the list. “I am also working on developing the character of Eli and Mort’s little sis’. She will have a book series all her own coming soon.”

Artistic Endeavors

Readers can plan a kid-friendly road trip following Eli and Mort’s many adventures with the help of the Nager’s Colorado Summer Book Series, which shares all the wondrous places to visit, along with adventurous things to do. The series covers skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, hiking, whitewater rafting, and skateboarding. You name it, Eli and Mort will try it. The premise is kids will develop confidence and a sense of agency through the character’s experiences.

Keeping It Local

Elyssa has always dreamt of becoming a New York Times best-selling novelist (in fact, she has written a few novels) but this home-grown children’s series of books has made a real mark here in Colorado. “Ken pointed out in 2014 that there weren’t any children’s books about the resorts and asked me if I could write one. I said, ‘Sure! Why not?’” And the rest is history. You can find the nine books of Eli and Mort’s Epic Adventure Series throughout Colorado at local book shops, children stores, and retail outlets, as well as on Amazon and online at