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A toys and books inventor

Tim Kehoe gives a demonstration of "Zubbles" -- colored bubbles that he invented -- to students at St. Ambrose Catholic School on Feb. 27. Staff photo by Amber Kispert

Some people are word-oriented, others are image- or object-oriented. For Tim Kehoe, it's bits of several worlds wrapped into one.

Kehoe is a local author and toy inventor who has spent his career bringing his imagination to life, whether in the form of inventing toys or creating a young inventor much like himself in his children's book "The Unusual Mind of Vincent Shadow."

"Ever since I was young I was inventing things " he said. "It's the freedom to do whatever I want to do -- every day is a new day."

Kehoe spoke to the third, fourth and fifth grade classes at St. Ambrose Catholic School on Feb. 27 about inventing and demonstrated some of his creations.

"Most of my ideas just come, I don't know where inspiration comes from, they just show up," he said.

Kehoe's greatest claim to fame are the "Zubbles," the world's first colored bubbles.

Zubbles, which will be available next year, were 14 years in the making. Finding the right mixture was one of the biggest challenges Kehoe had ever faced because solving the problem of how to prevent the bubbles from staining was considered to be unanswerable.

While trying to invent the bubbles, Kehoe stained everything from his teeth, the whites of his eyes, his face, his bathtub and even a few children.

After 14 years Kehoe did it -- he invented the first colored bubbled that didn't stain.

Whereas most people would give up after a few failed attempts, Kehoe was determined to solve the bubble puzzle.

"If I quit and didn't see it through, I'd feel a little silly spending so long on it," he said.

Also out next year will be Kehoe's first book, the "Unusual Mind of Vincent Shadow," which only became realized after a phone call from Plan B, Brad Pitt's production company.

Through the grapevine, Plan B had heard of Kehoe and his inventions, as well as an idea he had for a series of children's books, and they expressed interest in creating a movie out of them.

"At that point the books were just an idea," he said. "So I decided to invent a book."

Kehoe went to work writing about Vincent Shadow, an intelligent and curious young inventor, much like Kehoe himself.

Kehoe said transition from toy inventor to author was quite the challenge but in the end was one of the most rewarding endeavors of his life.

"Writing a book uses a whole different part of your brain," he said. "But I've found kids reactions to the book more rewarding even though inventing is typically instant gratification."

The prospect of Vincent Shadow being put up on the screen, especially by such a famous celebrity like Brad Pitt, is a very exciting adventure for the inventor.

Currently Plan B is shopping around the story to studios in hopes of getting it picked up. Kehoe has only one dream request, "I would love it if Tim Burton made the film."

"But I've learned that film making is a whole different world on its own and I don't know how to make a movie," he said. "But I'll be as involved as they want me to be."

Kehoe will continue to bring Vincent Shadow to life, or until he runs out of ideas, and continue to invent toys as long as there is interest from kids.

"When kids are all that excited it's worth it," he said. "The best thing is when you can inspire a kid to follow their dream no matter what it is."

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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