A new children’s book by North Grenville author Jennifer Gow tells many stories beyond its pages. The book started as an idea about a year ago, when Jennifer wanted an opportunity to connect with her niece, Christianne, with whom she was close when Christianne was a child. The pair realized that a common interest would be creating a children’s book, which had been a backburner goal of Jennifer’s for a number of years.
“It was a little awkward at first,” said Jennifer of learning to work remotely with Christianne, who lives in Calgary. “The story evolved from just talking over video chat.” Young people that Jennifer conferred with encouraged her, saying that in their experience, it is very possible to have a good connection with someone else remotely.
Christianne has a young son, Jackson, who was not quite a year old at the time. She suggested that her son’s stuffed toy owl could be the main character of their story. Their task then became trying to figure out what kind of “adventures” the owl could find itself in. When it came to illustrations for the book, Jennifer originally assumed she would do them since she loves to paint and draw. Christianne had a different, unique idea. She photographed her son sitting in a laundry basket with a stuffed toy, and then used a mobile phone app to turn the photo into a cartoon-style picture. “I thought it looked kind of good!” said Jennifer. “And I thought well now what am I going to do?”
Jennifer ended up doing the storyboard for the book, deciding on and sketching the illustrations that would be required for the story. These various “scenes” were then staged, photographed, and turned into cartoons for the book. Jennifer stressed that modern technology makes wonderful things possible, such as collaborating on a project from thousands of kilometres away.
Besides being a project for Christianne’s son, and an exercise in regaining closeness for an aunt and her niece, the book has now also taken on a humanitarian role as a fundraiser for children in Ukraine.
Jennifer knew that printing costs would need to be recuperated, and charging an extra $5 per book on top of printing costs allows it to be donated to a good cause. Finding a worthy cause came after Jennifer met Svitlana Kominko of the Maple Hope Foundation. Project Liza is one of the Foundation’s initiatives, named after a young Ukrainian girl who was killed on her way to a routine appointment. Project Liza delivers direct financial assistance to the hardest hit families with children in Ukraine. Funds from the project provide things such as food, evacuation, heating, clothing, and school supplies to these Ukrainian families.
While the new children’s book may be about Louis and his adventures, the stories created by this project spearheaded by an aunt and her niece are just as exciting. Relationships were built and strengthened, and with each book purchase, the world is one step closer to being a better place. “This story started out as relationship building, and it ended up being relationship building in a broader sense,” said Jennifer.
The children’s book, called “The Adventures of Louis and the Laundry”, is now completed and is available for purchase at the B&H grocery store or the Brewed Awakenings coffee bar, both in Kemptville. Pick up a new story to read to the kids, all while supporting a great cause.