A new 12-volume series of children’s books from best-selling Cowichan Valley author Teresa Schapansky is already atop the Amazon charts.
Known for her ‘Coinkeeper: The Avery Chronicles’ series and other publications, her latest venture, ‘Along the Way’ has been a long time coming.
It’s very existence comes as a result of a chance meeting between Schapansky and former Make-a-Wish Foundation President Bob Winterford at a Make-A-Wish Foundation ice fishing derby at Wabamun Lake in Alberta.
“I met Bob, and through chattering teeth; we had an amazing and life-altering conversation,” Schapansky noted. “The writing of the ‘Along the Way’ series is due to his creative genius, and I feel honoured to have been chosen to join our star, Albert, as he takes young readers on a dino-style, cross-Canada, educational and entertaining road trip.”
‘Along the Way’ books feature Albert the young dinosaur, “who takes his readers on make-believe road trips to points of interest around the country, where they can learn amazing geographical and historical facts and be introduced to different cultures, cuisine, horticulture, science and more.”
The dino rollerblades, hops on trains, crosses mountains, and more to get across the country, educating his readers all the while. It’s written with children aged six to 12 in mind and, because Albert wants to give back, a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of each book, will be donated quarterly to local children’s mental health and literacy programs.
“The decision to have the books narrated by a dinosaur was deliberate,” Winterford, who inspired the series, said. “Dinosaurs, similar to unicorns, fairies and leprechauns, are mystical, sometimes magical creatures that open up our creativity and learning about them, leads to imaginary play, which is crucial for children’s development. Anyone can narrate a book, but once we threw Albert into the mix, I knew we were on to something big.”
The storylines had plenty of time to develop as Schapansky searched high and low for just the right illustrator to construct her vision.
In the end, it turned out she didn’t have to look too far at all. The illustrator ended up being Schapansky’s very own neighbour!
“We started this series a long time ago and I could not find the right illustrator but I found her in May,” she said with a chuckle. “She lives across the street from me. Cowichan Valley artist Elly Mossman has singlehandedly brought every single cover and every single page of the ‘Along the Way’ series to life.”
Mostly self-taught, Mossman is a painter and an award-winning newspaper editorial cartoonist and book illustrator. During the pandemic she began working on her own comic stories called ‘Grampa Was an Alien’ (grampawasanalien.com).
Schapansky says Mossman is the Cowichan Valley’s best kept secret.
“Meeting Elly has been one of the greatest highlights of my life,” she said. “I am so pleased to be working alongside her.”
Schapansky plans to launch her book both locally and with a couple events in Alberta, likely in late November.
“It’s big stuff,” she said. “It’s really exciting.”
Learn more here. The books will be available locally and on Amazon.