A pretty good read

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Ian Leech has two passions: books and parrots. And, in his latest project, the retired teacher librarian manages to bring the two together in a most entertaining way.

Actually, although The Prettiest Parrot just celebrated its first printing, it was written before Leech's 2002 publication, Peek-A-Boo Parrots, for his nephew, David, who had a particular fascination for Leech's pet Eclectus parrot, Shakespeare.

Part of the challenge for his latest work, said Leech, was finding an illustrator who was up to the challenge of capturing the birds' realistic attributes while adding personas specific to the story.

After working with a U.S.-based artist on Peek-A-Boo Parrots, which is aimed at readers ages 2-6, Leech this time ended up with a much more local connection, Lexi Young, who was a Waterdown District High School student at the time.

"I asked Lexi to humanize the parrots, not make them into cartoons," said Leech. "I wanted them to be authentic-looking."

Another challenge for Young, now a graphics art student at Sheridan College in Oakville, was to emulate the style of Peek-A-Boo Parrots, which she achieved.

"The two books very obviously go together," noted Leech of the seamless style transition.

Matching Young's charming drawings are Leech's words, which tell the story of an argument that breaks out at the International Parrot Convention (about which bird is the prettiest, of course). While the narrator's framework lines are in prose, the parrots all speak in verse:

"Of all the beautiful parrots, I think,

the one that's most stunning

would have to be pink."

And while he stresses that The Prettiest Parrot, which is geared to readers ages 6-12, is a story about love, the retired educator never misses a chance to teach and takes great care to include the proper names for each bird. He even addresses the issue of extinction, as well as the theme of being beautiful on the inside, as well as outside.

While Leech already had one book under his belt, going into the publishing ritual a second time proved to be just as challenging. In the end, he opted to work with his son, Dan, who did "the heavy-duty computer work," including layout, design, scanning, "and lots of other things I don't pretend to understand."

When it came time to print the books, Leech turned to local businessman Dave Cooper, of Village Graphics, who tackled the challenge of producing book quality materials. And while it was more expensive per unit to do it this way, Leech said it works well, as he gained the flexibility to order smaller quantities of books, more often.

"The whole process this time around was more personal, and more fun for me," he noted. "The downside is that we're learning and reinventing the wheel each time."

Ironically, Leech doesn't currently have a pet parrot of his own, having adopted out Shakespeare in order to travel, and spend more time in the Bahamas, where he and his wife Daryl own a home. They plan to take along copies of The Prettiest Parrot on their next trip, for local schoolchildren. In fact, Leech recalls the reaction from one little girl in Belize, whose praise made his day.

"She said, 'Thank you! That is the most beautiful book I've ever seen,'" he said.

"She probably had hardly any books herself."

The Prettiest Parrot and Peek-A-Boo Parrots are available for $9.95 each, and are sold locally at Busybee Toys and Books in the Waterdown Shopping Centre and at Village Gallery and Graphics on Main Street South. They can also be ordered by calling 905-689-8506.

A pretty good read

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Ian Leech has two passions: books and parrots. And, in his latest project, the retired teacher librarian manages to bring the two together in a most entertaining way.

Actually, although The Prettiest Parrot just celebrated its first printing, it was written before Leech's 2002 publication, Peek-A-Boo Parrots, for his nephew, David, who had a particular fascination for Leech's pet Eclectus parrot, Shakespeare.

Part of the challenge for his latest work, said Leech, was finding an illustrator who was up to the challenge of capturing the birds' realistic attributes while adding personas specific to the story.

After working with a U.S.-based artist on Peek-A-Boo Parrots, which is aimed at readers ages 2-6, Leech this time ended up with a much more local connection, Lexi Young, who was a Waterdown District High School student at the time.

"I asked Lexi to humanize the parrots, not make them into cartoons," said Leech. "I wanted them to be authentic-looking."

Another challenge for Young, now a graphics art student at Sheridan College in Oakville, was to emulate the style of Peek-A-Boo Parrots, which she achieved.

"The two books very obviously go together," noted Leech of the seamless style transition.

Matching Young's charming drawings are Leech's words, which tell the story of an argument that breaks out at the International Parrot Convention (about which bird is the prettiest, of course). While the narrator's framework lines are in prose, the parrots all speak in verse:

"Of all the beautiful parrots, I think,

the one that's most stunning

would have to be pink."

And while he stresses that The Prettiest Parrot, which is geared to readers ages 6-12, is a story about love, the retired educator never misses a chance to teach and takes great care to include the proper names for each bird. He even addresses the issue of extinction, as well as the theme of being beautiful on the inside, as well as outside.

While Leech already had one book under his belt, going into the publishing ritual a second time proved to be just as challenging. In the end, he opted to work with his son, Dan, who did "the heavy-duty computer work," including layout, design, scanning, "and lots of other things I don't pretend to understand."

When it came time to print the books, Leech turned to local businessman Dave Cooper, of Village Graphics, who tackled the challenge of producing book quality materials. And while it was more expensive per unit to do it this way, Leech said it works well, as he gained the flexibility to order smaller quantities of books, more often.

"The whole process this time around was more personal, and more fun for me," he noted. "The downside is that we're learning and reinventing the wheel each time."

Ironically, Leech doesn't currently have a pet parrot of his own, having adopted out Shakespeare in order to travel, and spend more time in the Bahamas, where he and his wife Daryl own a home. They plan to take along copies of The Prettiest Parrot on their next trip, for local schoolchildren. In fact, Leech recalls the reaction from one little girl in Belize, whose praise made his day.

"She said, 'Thank you! That is the most beautiful book I've ever seen,'" he said.

"She probably had hardly any books herself."

The Prettiest Parrot and Peek-A-Boo Parrots are available for $9.95 each, and are sold locally at Busybee Toys and Books in the Waterdown Shopping Centre and at Village Gallery and Graphics on Main Street South. They can also be ordered by calling 905-689-8506.

A pretty good read

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

Ian Leech has two passions: books and parrots. And, in his latest project, the retired teacher librarian manages to bring the two together in a most entertaining way.

Actually, although The Prettiest Parrot just celebrated its first printing, it was written before Leech's 2002 publication, Peek-A-Boo Parrots, for his nephew, David, who had a particular fascination for Leech's pet Eclectus parrot, Shakespeare.

Part of the challenge for his latest work, said Leech, was finding an illustrator who was up to the challenge of capturing the birds' realistic attributes while adding personas specific to the story.

After working with a U.S.-based artist on Peek-A-Boo Parrots, which is aimed at readers ages 2-6, Leech this time ended up with a much more local connection, Lexi Young, who was a Waterdown District High School student at the time.

"I asked Lexi to humanize the parrots, not make them into cartoons," said Leech. "I wanted them to be authentic-looking."

Another challenge for Young, now a graphics art student at Sheridan College in Oakville, was to emulate the style of Peek-A-Boo Parrots, which she achieved.

"The two books very obviously go together," noted Leech of the seamless style transition.

Matching Young's charming drawings are Leech's words, which tell the story of an argument that breaks out at the International Parrot Convention (about which bird is the prettiest, of course). While the narrator's framework lines are in prose, the parrots all speak in verse:

"Of all the beautiful parrots, I think,

the one that's most stunning

would have to be pink."

And while he stresses that The Prettiest Parrot, which is geared to readers ages 6-12, is a story about love, the retired educator never misses a chance to teach and takes great care to include the proper names for each bird. He even addresses the issue of extinction, as well as the theme of being beautiful on the inside, as well as outside.

While Leech already had one book under his belt, going into the publishing ritual a second time proved to be just as challenging. In the end, he opted to work with his son, Dan, who did "the heavy-duty computer work," including layout, design, scanning, "and lots of other things I don't pretend to understand."

When it came time to print the books, Leech turned to local businessman Dave Cooper, of Village Graphics, who tackled the challenge of producing book quality materials. And while it was more expensive per unit to do it this way, Leech said it works well, as he gained the flexibility to order smaller quantities of books, more often.

"The whole process this time around was more personal, and more fun for me," he noted. "The downside is that we're learning and reinventing the wheel each time."

Ironically, Leech doesn't currently have a pet parrot of his own, having adopted out Shakespeare in order to travel, and spend more time in the Bahamas, where he and his wife Daryl own a home. They plan to take along copies of The Prettiest Parrot on their next trip, for local schoolchildren. In fact, Leech recalls the reaction from one little girl in Belize, whose praise made his day.

"She said, 'Thank you! That is the most beautiful book I've ever seen,'" he said.

"She probably had hardly any books herself."

The Prettiest Parrot and Peek-A-Boo Parrots are available for $9.95 each, and are sold locally at Busybee Toys and Books in the Waterdown Shopping Centre and at Village Gallery and Graphics on Main Street South. They can also be ordered by calling 905-689-8506.