A local author has an interesting Easter adventure to share with young readers.
Shelley O’Brien is busy being a mom and working at the Steinbach Regional Secondary School, but she still finds time to write stories. Her second book is now published and continues with the main characters from her first book, The Spunky Caboodle and the Christmas Fadoodle.
The idea for these books first came up many years ago when she was in university.
“I took a course in writing, and we were supposed to write a book and I discovered that I couldn’t,” O’Brien recalls. “So, I started, and then I put it away.”
Time went by and the book was not touched until after her son was born, she says. He was the inspiration she needed to return to the story and keep writing.
“Just hearing him talking and the things he was interested in...and the characters I had already developed way back in university were still set in my mind. I had a clear vision of them. Then I decided it was a children’s book.”
O’Brien uses her love for rhyming to create fun stories for children while bringing unusual and lost words back to life. Her books contain a glossary so young readers can learn about these strange words.
Her second book, hot off the presses, contains more fantasy elements and more fun language.
It’s called The Spunky Caboodle and the Easter Fadoodle.
The success of the first book encouraged her to write another story that would be like the first one, and the focus turned to the next big holiday, Easter.
“I kept the main characters, the heroes, and I needed them to go to a different destination, and I needed some quirky egg ideas. I don’t really have a plan. I just start writing; I write, and I rhyme. And with Neil, who does the illustrations, we work together closely, and he just makes the story come alive.”
O’Brien says the second book was easier to write than the first one. She gives a lot of credit to her illustrator, Neil Klassen, who is an art teacher at the SRSS.
When she started her first project, O’Brien was encouraged to look for local artists to work with her and that brought her to the art department at the high school. She asked Klassen if he knew of anyone who would be interested in illustrating this fantasy book.
“And his eyes lit up, ‘that’s my genre! What if I worked with you?’” O’Brien says Klassen’s illustrations make the book. Readers notice the artwork immediately, she adds.