Salt Spring author-illustrator Aidan Cassie will be at the public library this Saturday, July 28 to launch the debut release from her blossoming career in children’s fiction.
Meant especially for the three- to six-year-old crowd, Sterling, Best Dog Ever features winsome drawings and a charmingly original story that will delight adult readers as much as kids. Cassie’s first event as a published author will include a reading, plus a book give-away, kids’ crafts, bookmarks, stickers and cupcakes from 1 to 2 p.m.
Cassie unofficially entered the publishing field in 2010 when she created an activity and colouring book as a fundraiser for Salt Spring’s Little Red Schoolhouse preschool, when her daughter Maia attended. After that she started working on book dummies and managed to get a New York agent on her first try with Sterling when she sent it out in 2015.
While picture book authors usually face a scenario of creating a story and then having no say about the accompanying artwork, Cassie is fortunate to be someone who does both parts. Her stories evolve from her images rather than the other way around.
“Certainly I go at it art first. I would have gone into illustration if I couldn’t have done both,” Cassie said.
For her debut book Cassie created a lovable character in Sterling, a silver-coloured dachshund or wiener dog. As the story goes, Sterling has always wanted a home, but no home has ever wanted him. So when he sees a sign on the side of the Butlery Cutlery Company advertising free “shipping to homes around the world,” he sends himself to a family and sets out to be the most terrific fork ever. Having a canine fork doesn’t exactly work out for them, but everyone soon realizes that what they really need is a dog.
The idea of unconditional love was important to her as someone who comes from a family with a great deal of perfectionism baked in, and her desire not to pass on pressures around talent or success to her daughter (who is now in middle school).
“I want her knowing it is just herself she is loved for,” Cassie explained.
Cassie and her family recently spent a year in Provence, which is where she finished her illustrations for Sterling. She’s now completing the cover art for her second book, with expected publication in 2019, and has started writing her third. As she observed, learning to juggle a number of books that are all in different stages will be a major part of her learning path this year.
In addition to Saturday’s launch, Cassie will be exploring the world of author visits with readings of Sterling, Best Dog Ever at Salt Spring schools this fall.
“I can’t wait to read it to full classrooms of kids and doing drawing with them. So that’s an exciting part of the coming year, between doing books,” Cassie said.
For more on this story, see the July 25, 2018 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.