A writer and illustrator who live in Maple Ridge have teamed up for a children’s book about bullying.
Ryan Groening, who is known locally as a member of the ZZ Top tribute band, B.C. Top, originally met illustrator Andrea Gibson, through music. They were planning to be in a band together, but that never materialized.
When Gibson posted online that she wanted to work on a children’s book, Groening jumped at the chance to collaborate.
The pair came up with Horace and Boris, named after hand puppets Groening used to play with with his two children, who are now 10- and 12-years-old.
Groening said the idea for the book came from his work facilitating anti-harassment and violence prevention to longshoremen adults and he noticed that every one of them had come across some form of bullying at an early age.
“It was important to me to get a message out there to kids that it’s if you see something, to say something,” said Groening, adding that he was trained by the BC Lions and the Ending Violence Association of BC through the program Be More Than a Bystander.
A wily, old elephant named Boris meets Horace the horse and invites him to his circus, which has just come to town. At first Horace is excited to see the amazing acts and creatures, and is impressed with Boris’ abilities as ringmaster and astonished at his skills as a magician.
However, as the show continues, Horace realizes that things are not quite as it seems.
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The book is aimed at children aged 3-7 years, but, said Groening, the moral and the artwork can be appreciated by anyone. He is a self-published author through Friesen Press, because, he feels if he went the traditional route of finding a publisher, the story might never have seen the light of day.
Groening will be hosting a book signing event for Horace and Boris at Bean Around Books and Tea at 22626 Lougheed Hwy. in Maple Ridge. He will be there from 11-1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21 and will have a limited number of soft cover books for sale.
The book is also available throughout the Fraser Valley Regional Library system as part of their Local Indie Author Collection.
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