An educator and her former student are celebrating the release of their new book after a chance meeting earlier this year.
Harriet Zaidman, a teacher-librarian at Niakwa Place School, and former Niakwa Place student Sarah Neville, an artist and illustrator who graduated from the University of Manitoba’s School of Art earlier this year, will launch Daisy’s Biggest Success at McNally Robinson Booksellers (1120 Grant Ave.) on Sun., Nov. 24 at 2 p.m.
The self-published hardcover book, which was written by Zaidman, 61, and illustrated by Neville, 24, focuses on protagonist Daisy, who is modelled on Zaidman’s own dog, who died earlier this year.
"The real Daisy kept us busy for 14 years. She had a long, fur-filled life," Zaidman said, noting she’s been a children’s book reviewer for 14 years and has also reviewed adult titles for the Winnipeg Free Press.
Without giving too much of the story away, Daisy the pup loves jumping on the couch, but her owners don’t like the hair she leaves behind. She succeeds in knocking off the big books they put in her way, which sets her off on new adventures. When Daisy begins to solve problems around the house, she achieves a success neither she nor her family could have imagined.
The Garden City resident said she wrote the manuscript for the book several years ago, but put it to one side after the publisher she had been working with went out of business. Then, earlier this year, she bumped into Neville, who told her she was an artist with a passion for dogs and the working relationship blossomed from there.
"I sent Sarah the transcript and it went from there. It was interesting process, as we worked together on the book, which isn’t always the case," Zaidman said, noting the story is autobiographical.
"It started as a fun story, but there is a message in the book, which captures the value of reading and libraries, but that wasn’t the original intention. It’s also a tongue-in-cheek look at how animals really control the household and how they become the centre of the family."
Zaidman said she enjoyed the experience of working with a former student on the project.
"It was a pleasure working with Sarah. I really appreciate how she brought Daisy to life and captured her spirit. And as a teacher, it’s a pleasure to see a former student achieving her hopes and dreams. She was always artistic at school," she said.
Neville, who recently moved to Fort Garry from Southdale, also found the collaboration a rewarding one.
"It’s pretty exciting, as I’ve wanted to get into illustrating children’s books for a long time. It was a fun project and I really liked the experience. It was also good to reconnect with Harriet and find out what a lot of the others have been up to. There was also a comfort zone working with Harriet," Neville said.
Zaidman noted there will be dog-themed, edible treats available at the book launch. At this stage, the book is available at McNally Robinson, Toad Hall Toys and at www.forestparkpress.ca. To learn more about Neville, visit www.sarahneville.ca.