Being an author may not be George Bove’s bread-and-butter career, but writing a book for children fits the Loudon County man to a “little orange t.”
Bove’s book, “the little orange t,” has been enthusiastically embraced by children and adults who are captivated by the adventures of “lot” — short for “little orange t” — after he’s rejected by a West Tennessee soup factory because of his color. This dismissal was the beginning of lot’s journey across Tennessee where he sees some amazing sights, meets some famous Tennesseans and learns more about the state before ending up in Knoxville. Here, lot finds his destiny and his home, changing from a “little orange t” to the upper case “T” representing the University of Tennessee in “the world’s largest bowl of alphabet soup,” Neyland Stadium.
“The idea for ‘the little orange t’ was just the idea of where do we all come from?” Bove explained. “The big power T, the big orange T, had to come from somewhere. The little orange t, when he climbed into the Sunsphere, magically transformed into the big orange T. We all started small, we all have to grow big, we all have a life of struggles to get where we are. It’s the story of the little orange t and the struggle to become the big T.”
Bove said he’s “beyond blessed” by the reaction to the book, which continues to sell out at Southland Books in Maryville and Union Avenue Books in Knoxville as well as on Amazon.com. “We’re in East Tennessee, and we all bleed orange — well, not everybody! — but the majority of us who do bleed orange are excited about a new character to hopefully be added to the university family,” he said.
Sense of belonging
The story wraps itself around lot’s quest to find where he belongs.
“The little orange t isn’t me, it’s us,” Bove said when asked how much of himself is contained in his character. “I don’t know any one of us who hasn’t had that same thing. Do I belong here? Do I fit in? When we find that place where we know that we all belong then we can lead, and we can shine.
“I think the trick that the little orange t teaches us is, it’s not just Tennessee history, it’s not just Tennessee pride, it’s not just Tennessee sports — what he teaches us is that, throughout all the trials and tribulations, you just gotta keep smiling along the way.”
Artist Kristi Lynch illustrated “the little orange t.” Bove said, “Every page, even the cover, is an individual watercolor painting. You can see the brushstrokes. Only the words have been added by virtue of the computer. She’s an East Tennessee gal who painted, right here in East Tennessee. That organic feeling is amazing.”
“There’s a lot of Tennessee history in the book,” Bove said, but still with the childlike wonder and exuberance exhibited by the little orange t. “It will allow you to be silly about things that could be serious. And really, isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?”
“The little orange t” begins and ends with a statement of faith.
“It’s very Christian-oriented — period,” Bove said. “The very first, in the dedication, the book is dedicated to Jesus Christ. At the end of the book, it’s teaching children to be patient and to pray. Now, it’s not the Bible in the middle, it’s the little orange t, but it definitely has a Christian orientation, and I’m not ashamed of that at all.”
In the process of writing the book and preparing it for publication and release, Bove said he developed quite an attachment to the little orange t. “We really got to know each other really good,” he said. “What the little orange t has done for me really helped open a lot of doors and change things for me. He’s my pal. He really is. I think when you read it, he’ll be your pal, too.”
Bove, who moved to Maryville from New York 28 years ago, is employed at BESCO/Broadway Electric Service Corporation. He lives in Loudon County with his wife, Janet. He authored his first book, a Christian-based self-help book entitled “Death by Happy, Life by Joy,” a couple of years ago. “It helps people through the confusions of the broken pursuit of happiness as opposed to realizing that we have joy, why worry about being happy all the time?”