It’s not often that you come across a book that’s perfect for the whole family, pets included, but Cloverdale author and illustrator Lui D’Amato might have just found the perfect balance. His book, Move Over Rover!, is a light-hearted family read that follows the true story of Cosmo (the book’s ‘Rover’), as he is forced to re-evalate his position in the family after Lui and his wife Sophia have their first child.
Cosmo’s life changed quite a bit when the D’Amatos brought home baby Nicolas. Cosmo went from being the centre of attention to having to move over to make room for the baby, and then he had to move over again when the D’Amatos’ second son Marco was born.
Cosmo, up until that point, had been a main focus for family. “Every time we came visiting [family], we had to bring him,” said Sophia. “It was, ‘Don’t forget Cosmo.’”
“And then of course, after the babies came, it was ‘Okay, Cosmo, you have to stay home. We’ll be right back,’” she said.
Cosmo is patient – as all dogs with young children in the family must be – kind, and protective of the newest additions to the D’Amato family.
Now that Nicolas and Marco are older (8 and 5-years-old, respectively), they take care of Cosmo, too.
Lui was inspired to write Cosmo’s story when he glanced in the rearview mirror one day and saw Cosmo sandwiched between Nicolas and Marco’s car seats.
“[Cosmo] used to go from window to window and he’d lay down in the backseat, he ruled the backseat,” said Lui. That day, seeing Cosmo sitting “squished” between the car seats, Lui was struck with an idea.
That idea would become the book’s cover.
Sophia said that after that, it wasn’t unusual to see Lui in the home office, writing or illustrating. “He said, ‘Even if I just put something together for the kids,’ you know, something for them to have and say, ‘Dad made this.’”
“I honestly didn’t think much of it, I thought he was just passing some time, because he likes to draw,” she said.
But soon enough Lui emerged from the office with a completed manuscript in one hand and a complete stack of illustrations in the other. They hired an editor, Wendy Dewar Hughes, and she put the manuscript and the illustrations together and suggested that Lui consider self-publishing his book.
Move Over Rover! is now available online through Amazon, in two Chapters locations (Langley and Granville at Broadway) and Toy Traders. Lui has also since been featured on Breakfast Television, and in Modern Dog Magazine.
“It is a kids book, but I like to call it a family book,” explains Lui, “because it has to do with the entire family, including the family pet.”
“So many people have pets before they have babies, and believe it or not, they end up giving [the pets] away. Because they’re a lot of work.”
At that, Lui walked over to the back door of the D’Amatos’ family kitchen, to let Cosmo in from the backyard. (At this point in the interview, Cosmo had been let out and in once before.)
Sophia shared a story of family members who were faced with that very same, difficult choice, and who eventually decided to give away their family pet. “It can be a struggle,” she said.
“You have to get real with it,” agreed Lui, sighing as Cosmo walked back across the kitchen and sat, once more, in front of the back door in a silent bid to be let into the backyard.
Second book in the works
Lui, who works in construction, has been a City of Vancouver employee for almost 30 years now and he plans to retire in a few years. Then he’ll focus on his next book, which he already has plans for.
The process of creating Move Over Rover! was not easy, explained D’Amato, and it was time consuming, especially the illustration.
The book includes 36 original, full-colour illustrations. The challenge came with keeping the characters and colouring consistent from page to page, very detail-oriented work.
When Lui has more time on his hands after he retires, he’ll dig in to his next story.
Although Lui asked the Reporter to remain mum on the title of his next project, we can reveal that it will be a story about facing your fears, and resassuring kids that it’s okay to be afraid. “I want to show that it’s okay to have a fear,” said Lui. “You know, even Superman is afraid sometimes.”