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Area resident releases children’s book ‘Stories from the Back Garden’

April 7, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Just for fun and because she is a watercolour artist, Kathleen Davies did watercolours of animals in her garden, plus the family cat. What she was putting together, really before she actually thought about it, was her charming children’s book, Stories from the Back Garden.

“The star is a little chipmunk,” she told the Citizen. “I entertained herself and made rhyming verses to go with the paintings. When I was up north where my son lives, I thought that would make a good children’s book. With the paintings and rhyming verses.” 

Like any author, Ms. Davies has wanted to tell the people in the neighbourhood where the action in the book takes place and that is Caledon, where Ms. Davies has lived for many years.

“I wondered if anyone would be interested in it,” she said. “I thought about finding a publisher. I sent a synopsis and one of the pictures to a publisher who liked it. Because it’s a Caledon story, the garden is behind my home in Caledon East. Rock’s Mills Press is the publisher. 

“My father was born in the UK. He had lived in Caledon East as a young man working on a farm for a while and then he went back to the UK,” Ms. Davies added.

She was born in Britain and came to Canada as a child with her family where they settled in Caledon East.

When she was married, she and her husband travelled with her husband’s work living in different places and bringing three sons into the world. Mr. Davies had a foreign assignment with Atomic Energy of Canada which took the family to South Korea. After two years in South Korea her husband died of an infection. She was widowed with three sons whom she brought home to Canada, eventually back to Caledon East.

“At that time, there was no help from the government and the company wasn’t any help,” she recalled.

Remarkably she raised her sons and earned two degrees: one in Sociology from Wilfred Laurier University and a Masters in Environmental Studies from York University.

Ms. Davies said she had been involved with art most of her life, more seriously for the last 20 years.

“I grew up in Caledon,” she voiced her affection for the town.

As a citizen in Caledon, she founded and volunteered on the Caledon Environmental Advisory Committee for some years.

On the Caledon art scene Ms. Davies has been very much involved, working at the Alton Mill Arts Centre for two years in one of the galleries. Her art training was a college course and she has taught at community groups and workshops for watercolour and oil, both of which she uses.

“My book is in watercolour,” she commented.

Kate is the child who befriends and keeps the stories of the animals in her back garden, just as Kathleen Davies describes.

The animals all have names in Stories from the Back Garden. The chipmunk is Chippie; Miss Mew, the household cat is “a little bit of villain in this story.” The stories are all true, we are assured; here’s a red squirrel, Henrietta; a grey squirrel, Cheeky Charlie and Rosie Skunk appears as well. The racoon, Rackitty lives in the barn.

Each picture has a verse to accompany it. The stories are day to day but the biggest adventure is Miss Mew going after Chippy. If Miss Mew ever catches him it will be a big worry but is there a rescue? Find out by getting the book, available at BookLore.

Asked if she is planning another book, Ms.Davies replied, “I may do. I always have lots of ideas. I think of a story and the verses just come. I am working on something; I’m always working on something.”

While the publisher sells the book, Ms. Davies has sold some herself, as she is well known in the community. Stories from the Back Garden is also sold in Bolton at Foster’s Book Store.

Ms. Davies was very proud to tell us about the other artist in her family, “My middle son, David Bass is an animation artist. He won an Academy Award for the animated short film ‘Ryan’.”

In fact, Ryan directed by Chris Landreth won over 60 awards, including the 2004 Oscar for Best Animated Short Film and the 25th Genie Award for Best Animated Short.

“He is a world class animator,” she said. “Now he works for a studio as head animator.”

She added philosophically, “I think this an important time in humanity. Of course it’s changing with technology; you have to photograph art properly and making it digital. Why does everything have to be digital?”

Kathleen Davies has had a lot of fun putting this book together with the illustrations and the verses. The Writers Union of Canada were helpful with legal contracts for a first time author. Graphic designer Sarah Carlin Ball did the lay out.

Quite simply, Kathleen Davies put it, “I just want to let people know that my book is out there. Maybe children will look in their own back yards to see who lives there too.”

This lovely book, perfect for reading aloud, Stories from the Back Garden is in stock now at BookLore.



         


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