hi, mister squirrel!
september 2019 - december 2019 | january 2021 - may 2021
For many people growing up, they are taught and shown squirrels are nothing but pests. They are constantly run over on our roads and many people actively try to get squirrels off of their yard with contraptions that can physically hurt them. I believe this is wrong. Squirrels and all animals alike should be treated with love and care.
For my Senior Capstone Project, I wrote, illustrated, and published a children’s book titled, “Hi, Mister Squirrel!” My goal is to teach young children (and maybe their parents too) squirrels should not be seen as pests, but loved and cared for. The story for this book is taken directly from my experiences with squirrels in my backyard and how I learned to love them. Like my story, I actually do feed my squirrels everyday, give them all names, and talk to them. For me, it’s not just something I do because I want to help out the squirrels, but these interactions can of course bring a lot of enjoyment to oneself as well. Along with the story being taken from my real life squirrel interactions, almost all of the illustrations were drawn using reference photos I took of my squirrels in my yard.
I was the author, illustrator, and publisher of "Hi, Mister Squirrel!"
In my junior year at Merrimack College is when I had to get ready for my senior capstone project. Being a lover of nature and squirrels, I knew I wanted to create something that deals with that. I wanted to teach others about loving and caring for squirrels, because it's what I do and I enjoy it. To begin this project, I did a lot of research on children's books, such as what and what doesn't work in both writing and illustrating for children. I also had to research how I could self publish my book.
I began working on the actual book in the second semester of my senior year. I began by writing the two different manuscripts of the same story. As part of the project, I should also mention that I had two professional mentors, author Donna Seim and illustrator Susan Spellman, who looked over my in-process work, giving suggestions and critiques. I sent my manuscripts to Donna Seim, and with her edits and suggestions (as well as the critiques from my professor and classmates), I was able to get to a completed manuscript.
Once the manuscript was finished, I could begin work on the illustration process. I began by sketching a storyboard, outlining the whole book. Going off of the storyboards I illustrated the first couple pages in Procreate for iPad. These were looked over as a class and sent to Susan Spellman to look over. With critiques on these, I got a better handling on how to continue the rest my illustrations.
After the illustrations were finished, I put everything together in InDesign.
successes / failures
I would say that the project was an overall success, but there definitely were some points where things just weren't working and I had to fix somethings up or redo them completely. After I got the first proof of the book, I gave it to my mother to look over and she actually had a tough time reading the font I was using. She also had some suggestions to fix some of the illustrations and to add an author's note at the end. I was able to take her suggestions and submit the fixed book file before publishing.
final results and evaluation
"Hi, Mister Squirrel!" is available to order on Amazon in hardcover or paperback.