North Delta couple Dave and Diane Reid Stevens are getting set to launch their second children’s book: Amazing Airborne A-Z.
The book, which features whimsical drawings and biological information on the West Coast’s flying creatures, comes a year after the launch of Dave’s first book Weirdly Wonderful, which is an alphabet book of aquatic creatures.
While the book was “encouraged” by Diane, Dave said, it was largely his project. This book is a joint effort by both.
Sitting in the Stevens’ studio, which features Dave’s colourful paintings along the walls, Diane struggles to remember how the idea for Amazing Airborne first came about.
“I don’t know why we started it,” Diane said. “I guess maybe once you start a project, it naturally evolves into other projects.”
In the Stevens’ first book, the idea came first: an alphabet book on local underwater creatures, illustrated with pun-filled cartoons. In this book, it was the title that came first.
“It suddenly popped into my head ‘Amazing Airborne’ and I thought, ‘Oh, that’s such a great title,’” Diane said. “And if you have a good title, you have to create a project to go with the great title.’”
Together, the pair created and self-published the children’s book, dividing duties so that former North Delta Secondary art teacher Dave would do the illustrations and research, and current Delview English teacher Diane would do the writing.
It starts with Dave, who researches the animals — “in the research you’re trying to not only find things that fit with the alphabet, but also give you something visual to work with,” he said — and begins sketching in his notebook. He then transfers the drawing to an illustration board to later paint and ink. He also does biologically accurate drawings on watercolour paper with pen.
“I’d like to see these before they go on there,” Diane said, pointing at the illustration boards and looking expressively at Dave. He laughed.
“We’re different,” she explained. “A painter paints a painting and it’s done. And if they don’t like it, they go, ‘Oh, I don’t like that. Okay, I’ll do another one.’ A writer plays.”
“I’m a fiddler, like I’ll say, ‘Oh, can you make his tail a little bigger?’ And if it’s already on here, then we’re in for arguments.”
“First time she did that to me, I just went, ‘What?’” he said. “‘What are you doing? So much work to get it to this stage.’”
On Nov. 5, from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the George Mackie Library, Dave and Diane will be on hand to launch their second self-published book. Copies of Amazing Airborne will be available for sale at the library, and for signing by both Dave and Diane. Additional copies will also be available at the Watershed Christmas Artisan Market on Nov. 25 and on Amazon and Dave’s website (davidtstevens.com) year round.
Right now, Dave and Diane are working on their third book — this one about the West Coast’s land animals. Dave’s favourite illustration is a drawing of a group of ungulates, hoofed creatures who’s hooves are divided into four parts.
They are laughing together, dressed in letterman jackets with university scarves around their necks. A fraternity, Dave calls them.
“I just think there’s so much funny stuff to do with an oven bird, or a dog fish, or a steelhead trout,” Diane said. “To me, the puns and the visual jokes just spring forth.”