Rhyming picture book unlocks inner artist

Rhyming picture book unlocks inner artist

An Aberdeen-based writer and illustrator has launched a children’s picture book with a story-specific activity pack set to get children and their parents drawing. 

Big Dog and the Home for Lost Hounds is the story of a stray dog’s search for a new home in a world where he doesn’t fit in - inspired by the writer’s very own rescue dog. 

The book is written by Colin Fraser, who through the writing process, was reconnected with drawing after years of inactivity. Following a life-long ambition to write his own children’s book, Colin has not only written his inaugural tale but illustrated it too.

Each book comes with a downloadable activity pack which parents and guardians can print at home for their child to complete. The pack is filled with colouring-in and drawing tasks which are linked to each story. But the activity pack isn’t just for children, “it’s for adults too!” the chief doodler and storyteller at Big Dog Stories shared. 

“I think as we get older, some of us lose touch with our creative side. Whether it’s a busy job, lack of time or just thinking we can’t, adults put that little creator into a box and forget about putting pencil to paper.

“Everyone can draw. Yes, some people may be able to draw more life-like images or have a knack for perspective, but we all have our own style. Art is subjective, relying on the eye of the viewer and what one person might think looks bad, another may think it looks amazing. It’s not about how it looks, it’s about how it makes us feel.

“There’s a lot of power in creating and that’s why I’m making it my mission to get more adults drawing and switching-off through creative activities.”

Escaping through sketch

During a spell of freelancing in 2022, Colin experienced a period of high stress and pressure when the clients stopped coming in. He decided to return to full-time employment and while he waited to return to the office nine to five, he made a pact to finish writing his children’s book. 

Struggling with an element of his tale, he decided to sketch out the story’s main character to help push him through the writer’s block. What he discovered was that all the stresses and anxieties filling his head were packed away for a brief moment and he could truly switch-off.

He shared: “I was amazed when a simple act of putting pencil to paper cancelled out the noise of daily life. 

“I’ve been a keen runner for years but never have I been able to completely switch-off. Being able to escape through drawing was a game-changer for me and hugely freeing. If drawing can help alleviate the pressure of a busy brain like mine, I knew I had to get the message out there.”

His first book is available to buy online and through a selection of local retailers including The Owl at Number Two in Rosemount and Hidden Scotland shop in Banchory. 

A stray with no collar

The first in a series of rhyming books centres around a stray hound named ‘Big Dog’ inspired by Colin’s real-life dog Ramsay who he adopted in 2020. Ramsay, a lurcher, arrived to Mrs Murray’s Cat and Dog Home unchipped with no background information, not even his age. Colin used this as the inspiration for his first tale.

Colin said: “We’ll never know what Ramsay’s story was before me and my fiancé Rachael adopted him - what we know now is what we have experienced with him over the past four years, and that is a lot of pre-judgement.

“He’s not your average cuddly-looking dog and he has plenty of quirks. What we figured out quite quickly after adopting him was the public perception of him was quite negative. 

“It was the classic judging a book by its cover which took me back to my childhood. It took me a long time to find my confidence and place growing up, so through the writing process I realised the mirroring in my story with Ramsay’s. They say dogs are just like their owners after all. Writing a children’s book centred around kindness and owning your quirks, was an important message for me to share.”

Community spirit

With rates of poverty on the rise in Scotland and across the UK, Colin is determined to share the first book in the Big Dog series as far as possible. He is set to host free community reading events in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire to give all children, their parents and guardians the chance to hear it. 

He said: “No matter of background or financial circumstance, all children should have access to stories. They’re a key part of childhood and help children exercise their imaginations to visualise stories and of course teach vital life lessons.

“The amount of kindness in the world seems to be dwindling by the day, so I hope my first and future stories will do their bit to remind everyone that a little kindness goes a long way.”

Purchase your copy of Big Dog and the Home for Lost Hounds on the online shop.

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