A local author has an interesting Easter adventure to share with young readers.
Shelley O’Brien is busy being a mother and working at Steinbach Regional High School, but she always finds time to write stories. His second book is now published and continues with the main characters from his first book, The Spunky Caboodle and the Christmas Fadoodle.
The idea for these books came to her many years ago when she was at university.
“I took a writing class, and we were supposed to write a book and I found out I couldn’t,” O’Brien recalled. “So I started, then I put it away.”
Time passed and the book wasn’t touched until after her son was born, she says. He was the inspiration she needed to get back to history and keep writing.
“Just hearing him speak and the things that he was interested in…and the characters that I had already developed in college were still etched in my head. I had a clear vision of them. Then I decided it was a children’s book.
O’Brien uses his love for rhyming to create fun stories for children while bringing unusual and lost words to life. His books contain a glossary so that young readers can discover these strange words.
His second book, fresh off the presses, has more fantasy elements and funnier 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, and attention 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 original egg ideas. I don’t really have a plan. I’m starting just writing; I write and I rhyme. And with Neil, who does the illustrations, we work very closely, and he just brings the story to life.
O’Brien says the second book was easier to write than the first. She gives a lot of credit to her illustrator, Neil Klassen, who is an art professor at SRSS.
When she started her first project, O’Brien was encouraged to seek out local artists to work with her and this led her to the high school art department. She asked Klassen if he knew anyone who would be interested in illustrating this fantastic book.
“And his eyes lit up, ‘that’s my type! What if I worked with you?’ O’Brien says Klassen’s illustrations make the book. Readers immediately notice the artwork, she adds.
“He succeeds every time,” says O’Brien.
It looks like these two artists were meant to work together on these books, sharing the passion for the characters and having the same vision of what they look like. When O’Brien first saw Klassen bring her characters to life through her illustrations, she said there were tears of joy.
“These characters have been in my head for 30 years, and finding someone who just drew them, and he knew them,” she says, her voice filled with admiration. “And there have been so few changes that we have made.”
Friesen Press has printed hard copies of The Easter Adventure, and O’Brien is delighted to offer the book to young readers. They can be found in some stores and online. Locally, O’Brien says she will buy books from Sunshine Nursery in Steinbach.
With Christmas and Easter Fadoodles covered, are there more adventures to come? O’Brien says she’s working on a Halloween adventure to continue with the holiday theme. She expects this book to be ready in the fall of 2023.