The Magic of Four: Bringing a family passion project to life

Ivan has always been a project-oriented guy. In today’s world, that can be a bumpy path, so when he returned from his first experience as an Airbnb guest in Oregon, he suggested to his wife Wendy that they rent out their spare room “like the babushkas in Eastern Europe”—only in their case, Wendy wouldn’t have to go fetch guests at the train station.

Hosting has allowed Ivan to worry less about taking odd jobs for the money, and invest his energy into his new role as a self-publisher.

Some 12 years ago, Ivan’s sister Cheska wrote a children’s book called Four is a Little, Four is a Lot. Inspired by a conversation with her young son after a particularly rough day on which he had four vaccinations, the book explores different situations when four is a little, and others—like getting vaccines—when four is a lot. When Cheska showed it to Ivan years later, he immediately loved it and asked her when it was coming out.

When he read through it, he got those shivers and tingles you get when you read a good book.

But as a working mother of young children, Cheska didn’t have time to pursue publishing the book. Since that moment, Ivan kept it in mind as a project that he could bring to life, and help his sister self-publish.

Over the subsequent years, Ivan was able to share Cheska’s book with his friends’ children and see his love for the project reflected in their own experiences with it. Today, multiple, beautifully illustrated characters lead the reader on their journey through these diverse circumstances when four might be a little, or four might be a lot.

“Hosting on Airbnb definitely allowed me to dedicate a lot more time towards publishing the book than I would have been able to do otherwise.”

In addition to having published and distributed the book, Ivan shares it directly with all their guests, including the principal of a pre-school who came to stay and left having purchased 20 copies for her staff to integrate into their curriculum. He’s currently planning on going to hardcover per requests from parents who want to hold onto it as a keepsake they can treasure from their kids’ younger years. But the biggest reward, according to Ivan, has been giving his sister the gift of seeing her vision realized and released into the world—and loved.

Ivan reviews press proofs for “Four is a Little, Four is a Lot,” some 12 years after its original inception.

Ivan reviews press proofs for “Four is a Little, Four is a Lot,” some 12 years after its original inception.


Vividly illustrated by four different artists, Cheska’s book introduces numerical concepts to a young audience in a way that is easily grasped.

Vividly illustrated by four different artists, Cheska’s book introduces numerical concepts to a young audience in a way that is easily grasped.


Milo, Ivan’s 25 pound Pinscher mix, has proven to be a loyal colleague in the self-publishing industry.

Milo, Ivan’s 25 pound Pinscher mix, has proven to be a loyal colleague in the self-publishing industry.


Hosting has enabled Ivan to give his sister—and some 1400 young readers—a special gift.

Hosting has enabled Ivan to give his sister—and some 1400 young readers—a special gift.

Airbnb teams up with local directors and photographers to bring these stories to life. Thanks to Drew Kelly for capturing this story.


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