Erin Napier's first children's book includes a sweet nod to her daughter — but only if you know where to look.
The Home Town star released The Lantern House on Tuesday, her first picture book created with a regular guest on her hit HGTV series, artist Adam Trest. The pair teamed up to share the heartwarming — and occasionally tearjerking — story of a house as the families who live there move in, grow up and move on over the years, told from the perspective of the house.
"The reality about our houses is, they go on after we've left them, and imagine if houses could talk, what would they tell us about the things that they've seen. That's fascinating to me," Napier tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. "Something I think about a lot is that the house I'm sitting in right now will outlive me. Isn't that crazy?"
Read more of this exclusive interview with Home Town's Erin Napier in the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
In the story, the Lantern House finds itself dark and empty at one point and imagining the future caretakers it might have. One potential resident is "a trapeze artist," a choice Erin says was a very personal one.
"The trapeze artist's house is Helen's. If she could do anything, this house would look like a circus tent and she would be the star trapeze artist," she says of her older daughter, 4, with husband Ben. The couple also share Mae, who turns one May 28. (Catch a glimpse of the trapeze artist's house in Trest's Instagram post, below)
Bits of Trest's family make it onto the same page. "The gardener was for Adam and his family," she reveals. "We were taking little bits from our own lives and stories about our houses and the previous owners that we had heard in every decision we made with the book and what it would look like."
The Lantern House itself, however, isn't a recreation of Napier's home in Laurel, Mississippi, or Trest's.
"The house was not based on any house in particular in Laurel, but Adam was on a road trip through Pennsylvania and saw a house that looked just like the Lantern House. And that was really the basis," she shares.
But the visually driven pair had imagined the house first. "We wanted it to be something that was like a Four Square [style], an all-American house," says Napier. "I've never lived in a house that looked like that, neither has he. But we felt like it was a good emblematic architectural style for this particular book. It's just a friendly house and it was fun to see how you take that friendly, average American house and make it something imaginative and whimsical on the pages."
Readers will no doubt develop an affection for the titular home reading this book, and that was Napier's hope. "When people tell me that it made them get emotional, then it feels like it did its job. I think we should be emotional about our houses. They're more than just buildings."
The Lantern House by Erin Napier, illustrated by Adam Trest, is out now.