Simon Gallimore (right) and his kids Lindsay (in purple) and Katherine search for a monster in the page of an upcoming book by local women during a pre-launch event at the MAC on Saturday, Jan. 6. — Adam Kveton Photo

Parksville pair’s monster book plays hide-and-seek with young readers

One-day event showcases original artwork, poetry ahead of book’s launch

Young readers and monster enthusiasts, some dressed in safari hats and others sporting binoculars and magnifying glasses, gathered at the MAC on Saturday, Dec. 6 to find themselves some beasties.

The local author and illustrator team of Jennifer Desvaux and Aura Vanderwal took a different approach to a book launch event to get kids excited about their project, The Very Last Monster Book.

Echoing the mostly hidden monsters in their book, the finished book itself was nowhere to be found at what was actually a pre book-launch event that aimed to introduce children and families to the project, get them excited for it and register for a copy.

The event had the original artwork and poetry that make up the book on display, and asked attendees to dress up in their best monster-tracking gear to locate the rare monsters (one hidden on each page in a sort of Where’s Waldo fashion) and earn a certificate.

Children, parents and grandparents were lined up ahead of the event’s start time to see what it was all about, while Desvaux and Vanderwal said they were excited to see what would happen.

While Desvaux said she can imagine well-established books doing an event like theirs, she said she was excited to turn that on its head.

“That this is how we are going to start it, by celebrating it as a piece of art, both the words and the imagery.

“I would love to spare millions of dollars just to be able to run with it, but I like the fact that people get interested and committed up front, and then they are invested in it as well,” said Desvaux.

“The book is more than me, and it’s more than Aura. It becomes everybody’s and I really like that. It has its own life and everyone is invested and involved. I really like that.”

Of beginning the book, Desvaux said she woke up from a dream with the first three stanzas in her head.

“I knew that was something special, so I got up really quickly and wrote them down really fast, and then the next sort of materialized over the next six months.”

Though Desvaux had written stories before, this is the first one she shared, eventually with Vanderwal, a friend of hers.

“When she finally let me read it, I absolutely loved it, and I didn’t want it to end,” said Vanderwal. “I wanted it to keep going on and on and on, and then she told me that she was ready to send it in to a publisher, and that they would probably partner her up with an illustrator.”

With a background is portraiture, Vanderwal asked if she could take a crack at illustrating a page.

“One by one, it just came together perfectly,” said Vanderwal.

Illustrated using several media, but mostly watercolour, the images portray colourful, varied environments (described by Desvaux in her poems) in which monsters are hidden (some more craftily than others, but each leaving most of the monster obscured).

“There is just a glimpse of the monster — it is not the full-scale, and so what I see in my mind’s eye is going to be different than what you see when you look at him,” said Vanderwal. “We’re wanting to bring imagination back.”

Other themes in the book include environmental stewardship and endangered species (the monsters being quite rare).

Nonetheless, what Desvaux said she hopes kids get out of the book is a love of language and art, and that the effect is lasting.

“There are certain children’s books that you probably have yourself from when you were little, like Where the Wild Things Are. For me, I had a book of Dennis Lee, Alligator Pie poetry… it weaves into your childhood and becomes a part of it. Yeah, that’s what I would ultimately love for this story.”

For more information on the book, and to register for a copy, go to lastmonsters.com.

Send news tips to:

adam.kveton@pqbnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Jennifer Bate, executive director of Parksville’s McMillan Arts Centre, visits the PQB News/VI Free Daily studio. (Peter McCully photo)
PQBeat: A chat with Jennifer Bate of Parksville’s McMillan Arts Centre

Podcast: Discussion includes COVID-19 issues, singing in a rock band and more

(File photo)
Crime report: PQB thieves pilfer licence plates, televisions

Oceanside RCMP received a total of 308 complaints in one-week period

VIU Mariners coach Larry Stefanek. (Black Press File Photo)
Parksville soccer coach Stefanek earns special national certification

VIU Mariners head coach one of 30 in Canada to complete program

Working smoothly together on May 11, 2020, health minister Adrian Dix, B.C. Liberal health critic Norm Letnick, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and sign language interpreter Nigel Howard. (B.C. government video)
COVID-19 co-operation a casualty of B.C.’s pandemic election

NDP’s Horgan weaponizes senior care, B.C. Liberal Wilkinson calls for ‘wartime economy’

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island residents warned to watch livestock, pets after bear kills llama

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
RCMP cleared in fatal shooting of armed Lytton man in distress, police watchdog finds

IIO spoke to seven civillian witnesses and 11 police officers in coming to its decision

A 34-year-old man was treated for a gunshot wound in Williams Lake Monday, Oct 19, 2020. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake man treated for gunshot wound after accidental shooting: RCMP

Police are reminding residents to ensure firearms are not loaded when handling them

A injection kit is seen inside the newly opened Fraser Health supervised consumption site is pictured in Surrey, B.C., Tuesday, June 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. records 127 fatal overdoses in September, roughly 4 each day

Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria continued to see the highest numbers of overdoses

Investigators work at the Sagmoen farm in Silver Creek. - Image credit: Observer file photo.
Sex workers allegedly called to farm of Okanagan man convicted of assault, RCMP investigating

Curtis Sagmoen, convicted in relation to assault of sex trade workers, is prohibited from soliciting escorts

(Black Press Media files)
Early voters more likely to favour NDP, but overall B.C. election is tightening: poll

According to Elections BC, 383,477 people cast a ballot during advanced voting days

(Pixabay)
Wave of racist emails ‘unleashed’ on B.C. researchers investigating racism in health care

The team has received close to 600 calls and emails since the investigation started in July

Most Read