"The gentleman bat, with his gentleman's cane, went out for a walk one night in the rain."
With those lines, author and mixed-media artist Abraham Schroeder, 34, of Petaluma, opens his new book, "Gentleman Bat," due out next fall from Ripple Grove Press in Hubbardston, Mass., west of Boston.
Boston connections have a lot to do with Schroeder's fanciful 32-page children's book.
While in the master of fine arts program at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 2002, Schroeder met an art student from Poland named Piotr Parda.
A few years later, while working at the Museum of Fine Arts, cataloging its collection of Japanese prints, Schroeder found an 1880s woodblock print of bats by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi.
Inspired by the print, Schroeder began writing his story-poem about the Gentleman Bat. He enlisted his former college friend, Parda, to create illustrations for the book.
"We've been laboring over the story and illustrations for eight years. It started with shooting (notes and drawings on) napkins back and forth across the bar, and now we have a huge backlog of stories and art," Schroeder said.
"I finally got to the point where I was ready to print it, and some friends started a publishing company, and they signed me up," Schroeder said.
In 2010, Schroeder moved to Petaluma with his wife, Kait Schroeder, now executive director of the North Bay office of Summer Search, a national non-profit organization working with low-income youth.
The Schroeders have a 10-month-old son, Nathaniel, who spends a lot of time with his dad.