Marla Paul-Merasty is hoping to vamp things up with the release of her first children’s book.
To mark I Love to Read Month in February, the south St. Vital resident will officially release Chuck The Different Vampire at McNally Robinson Booksellers at Grant Park on Sat., Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. The book is illustrated by Alan Margolis and self-published at FriesenPress.
The story focuses on a young vampire called Chuck. Unlike traditional vampires, he doesn’t like blood and longs to be in the sun and the daytime world, Merasty-Paul said. He discovers he has a special power that allows him to exist in the sun and that manners and politeness are the keys to him becoming an active member of his community.
"The idea is about a little vampire that wants to be out in the sun finds out if he does good things with his manners, such as being helpful and considerate, he can stay out in the sun," said Paul-Merasty, whether it be picking up a dropped walking cane for a senior or pushing a girl with Cerebral Palsy up a curb.
"He helps her up the curb and they don’t see each other’s failings and they want to meet for a play date," she said.
Merasty-Paul — a married mother-of-two and an educational assistant who works with children with special needs at H. S. Paul School and who is also known as Miss Marla — said the book also deals with themes of equality.
"The message is that kids with special needs don’t have to be treated differently. There doesn’t have to be barriers. For example, Chuck is seen as different, but he doesn’t have to be," she said, noting the character is like a "little Eddie Munster" who wears trademark red Converse running shoes.
The book’s illustrations, by the Illinois-based Margolis, are a nod to some of Winnipeg’s most recognizable buildings, including the Manitoba legislature and the Exchange District.
"It’s a tribute to some of our buildings, as I wanted to make it Canadian and true to Winnipeg," she said.
At the back of book, there are also notes about illustrations, manners and Cerebral Palsy to enhance the story’s educational value.
"It good for parents and teachers as a reference point," Paul-Merasty said, adding she hopes the book is the first in a series. "We’ll see how it goes and we’ll work from here."
The energetic author also recently became a licensed marriage commissioner for the province.
For more information, visit chuckthedifferentvampire.ca.