The Williams Lake author and illustrator team of Victoria Greenley (writer) and Raylene Hale (visual artist) have combined their efforts to publish a second children’s book, Touched by the Wind.
Their first book, I Don’t Like My Grumpy Face, published in 2012, has been recommended as a resource with the Zones program presented by POPARD (the Provincial Outreach Program for Autism and Related Disorders). It is also a recommended resource for the school district’s Positive Action Program.
Greenley says the inspiration for Touched by the Wind came from Barbara Doedel, a teacher with the deaf and hard of hearing in Williams Lake.
“She told me there were no positive children’s books on the subject of hearing impairment,” Greenley explains.
Then she put her thinking cap on and came up with a book idea.
To prep for the book she spent a summer imagining what it would be like to be deaf.
“I used my eyes more and tried to imagine what it would be like if I couldn’t hear well,” Greenley says.
After she wrote her first draft of Touched by the Wind, Greenley went to a barbecue with some of Barbara Doedel’s students and read them the story.
“I asked if any of the kids wanted to be characters in the book, and they thought it would be cool,” says Greenley.
So the names of the children in Touched by the Wind have a connection to real people.
Besides providing insight into what it’s like to be hearing or visually impaired, Touched by the Wind broaches a bigger topic. The wind, symbolized by a dove in the illustrations, touches you to help you see beyond the superficial.
For instance the main character, Calysta, initially only sees what lies on the surface when she meets a man wearing funny-looking green pants, or a woman wearing a red sunhat.
At first these outward characteristics defined how she thought of those individuals.
Gradually as she gets to know them better, she becomes aware of deeper aspects of who they were.
Calysta, who wears hearing aids, meets Devyn, who wears strong corrective lenses. Between the two of them they learn to rely on each other’s strengths to succeed.
Calysta’s brother, Siegi, has a cochlear implant, and the reader is educated about what this entails.
“The wind is the spirit that lets you see,” explains Greenley. “The intent of the book is to help you appreciate the true character of a person, and to connect with the beauty of nature.”
She is hoping Touched by the Wind will become a resource in the provincial school system, similar to the way her first book has been.
Illustrator, Raylene Hale, took two years to complete the images for Touched by the Wind. She loves to paint and draw, but had to fit the project in with her day-job as library aide for several elementary school libraries in the Williams Lake area.
The illustrations are done on a computerized drawing board and resemble watercolours.
“My son Troy designed special effects brushes and taught me how to use them on the board to make the flowing water, clouds and plant foliage look more realistic,” Hale says.
Greenley, who works as a speech and language assistant for School District 27, says she could see where there were needs in the education system and tried to address them with her books.
Her next project in its fledgling stages, is to create a picture perfect parenting book for parents who don’t read.
Greenley and Hale are planning several book launch events this spring at the Williams Lake Library and various retail stores that handle their books.
Currently both titles I Don’t Like My Grumpy Face and Touched by the Wind are available at the Open Book, Save-On Foods book department, and at the Station House Gallery.
Greenley is hoping Touched by the Wind will be picked up by school districts around the province as a teaching resource for students.