Often when creating a picture book, authors and illustrators need only go to the creative minds of their own children to receive top-notch feedback.
On March 29 fans of all ages gathered at Another Story Bookshop on Roncesvalles Avenue to celebrate the launch of the picture book The Pirate’s Bed, written by Nicola Winstanley and illustrated by Matt James.
Dozens of children in costume crowded the quaint shop eager to share their love of pirate’s and hear Winstanley read her storybook.
Winstanley, coordinator of the Media Foundation program, began by relating that story’s inspiration sprang from an experience she had with her three-year-old son who would not stay in his bed.
“In desperation I started telling him that his bed was a pirate bed and that maybe if he slept in his own bed he would have pirate dreams,” she said.
Winstanley said that like some of her other children’s books, told the idea to her son and wrote it down, but didn’t come back to it until a few months later, when she finally began molding the story.
Winstanley considers herself a teacher first and a author second as getting published takes a long time.
While the writing process does not take long for Winstanley, the publishing process took close to seven years, she said.
“I learned that many factors are out of your control when it comes to getting published. I submit stuff regularly and my publisher often rejects them saying, ‘that’s not for us right now’ or ‘we don’t do books for younger kids right now.’ There are so few publishers in Canada and it is very competitive,” Winstanley said.
Winstanley’s words were matched with local illustrator James.
James referenced the challenge of creating action with a main character who is fixed with no dialogue.
Similar to Winstanley, James said that he turned to his son for inspiration.
“With my older son I would say that I just steal his ideas. He was the one who asked if the bed was going to have eyes or a mouth,” he said.
James said he appreciates the energy children bring to creating art.
“I love making art with both of my kids. If you ask a grown up do you want to make some art half of them will say, ‘oh I can’t draw,’ but kids never say that,” he said.
Both contributors of The Pirate’s Bed showed the importance of involving children at all stages of a story’s production.
As Winstanley and James read older audience members took note of the key role children played in making the story and the launch of success.
Brittnay Rose, Media Foundations alumna, said that she enjoyed the interaction between Nicola and her readers, in an age where kids would rather play with an iPad than read a book.
“The reading itself was amazing. All the little kids took a seat on the ground and listened to every word, laughing at all of the pirate jokes.”
The Pirate’s Bed in hardcopy can be purchased at Another Story Bookshop.