Author Britton has her roots in Yorkton
Terre Britton has a new book.
And this time the Yorkton-born author has turned her attention to children’s books with the release Jammie Cats Count! The Magical Forest.
The book is a first for Britton who was raised on a grain and cattle farm outside of Yorkton, in a household where she said her parents and seven siblings were each blessed with diverse creative talents.
“I have illustrated other client children’s books and a short story anthology, but, yes, this is the first children’s book that I have written and illustrated,” she said, via email from her home in the Pensacola, Florida-area, where she lives with her husband Dan and works as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator for nearly three decades.
To turn to writing a children’s book herself was a rather natural progression for Britton.
“My interest in writing developed alongside my visual arts interests,” she said, adding “I have a degree in History, in Art with a minor, in English from the University of Victoria, BC, and I’ve written art reviews for Regional News and Victoria News.”
But where did the idea for the book come from?
“Well, it was a two-fold evolution,” offered Britton.
“On the one hand, the undertaking was a creative one to fulfill a long time vision of making a picture book. And being that my husband and I derive great joy and inspiration from our two adorable cats, Piccolo and Odysseus — a.k.a. Odie Cologne — the idea of Jammie Cats was born!
“I’m hoping the cuteness-connection and imaginative adventures will help draw preschoolers into their early age of enlightenment.
“On the other hand, the endeavour was a technical one, to walk through all the steps of creation, production, and publication of a picture book, in order to expand my freelance skills.”
Writing for children took a few tries for Britton to feel she had it right.
“My first few drafts were prose, but the more I edited, the leaner it became until the rhyming scheme emerged, not entirely on its own but only a couple of lines were a struggle,” she said.
“Writing for youngsters is both similar and different from writing for adults. Besides obvious subject matter differences, in both cases you aim high but writing for kids you get to tap back into the realm of innocence.”
The characters seemed to emerge through the creative process.
“The characters emerged as part of the writing,” said Britton. “Then I scoured my stash of sketchbooks, art cards, postcards, books, and the net for reference images. I researched many illustration styles, and I found people like Aurélie Neyret, Loish, JM Bell, Paul Gill, Margarita Kukhtina, and of course Richard Scarry, Maurice Sendak, Dr. Seuss, and Evangeline Lily’s The Squickerwonkers inspiring. Then it was a matter of moving forward, finding my style.
“As for the setting, the magical forest is a metaphor for the imagination — a place of endless and fantastical possibilities.”
Getting the art style just right to match the story was important.
“I chose a bold, cutesy style for appeal but the challenge was still keeping the layout of each spread visually succinct so the child is able to count the images without confusion,” explained Britton.
“Using Adobe Illustrator, I also chose to create the artwork as vectors, as it’s a convenient medium for enlarging artwork for high-resolution print work and is easily converted to animation.”
There were of course challenges in creating the book, the largest being to fit the process into a busy schedule.
“My biggest challenges were finding time to work on the project and troubleshooting a false reading on the barcode,” she related.
But it has been worth the effort.
“I’ve had wonderful feedback on the characters, imagery, and the rhyme: cute, bold, and lovely. I consider those all to be great successes. I think the best aspect of the book is that the Jammie Cats want to befriend the reader and lead them into an adventure where they encourage them to explore their imaginations and learn something together,” said Britton
“The book also includes Jammie Cat Facts. These are fun Jammie Cats factoids like: We always wear our jammies, so we never miss a catnap, or important creative tidbits, such as imagination is boundless!”
Jammie Cats Count! The Magical Forest is also a great bedtime book because in the final few pages the characters get tired and fall asleep, said Britton.
So is the author happy with the book she has created?
“I’m very pleased with the story and have designs on future books,” said Britton.
Anyone wanting to know more can visit the Jammie Cats™ site: www.jammiecats.com where viewers will find a couple of free downloads for their children — two coloring pages and a poster. Britton said more will be added over time.