Beth Rand never set out to write children’s books. In fact, she wasn’t even an artist when she began work on the project that became her recently released book “ABC Gulls.”
But the self-taught illustrator was inspired one winter after moving to Peaks Island three years ago. Her children were all out of the house, off to college and adulthood.
“I had never done any illustration until, I guess, three winters ago. … I was out here [on Peaks Island] and there were so many artists, … and I was kind of inspired,” Rand said during a recent phone interview.
Using a computer drawing program, she started experimenting with imagery.
“I picked a seagull. … I started working with that and perfecting it a little bit and making them do different things,” Rand said.
Before she knew it, she had a collection of seagull images and had the idea to use them for a book.
“I thought, maybe I’d try putting them in this framework,” Rand said.
When she was done, she sent the manuscript, including her illustrations, to Islandport Press on a whim.
“I stuck it in the mail, and I didn’t give it another thought. And that was on a Friday, and on Monday I got a call from Islandport Press,” Rand said. “I sent it to only one person because I thought no one was going to like it.”
But like it they did. The recently published book is an alphabetical book of one-sentence seagull stories that utilize alliteration to reinforce letter sounds.
“I wanted to have at least a sentence [for each letter] and I wanted to use the letter sound more than once, so I just went with the alliteration,” Rand said. “And that makes it a little more interesting for the person reading to the child.”
For “H,” Rand writes, “Hike: Haskell hits the trail and heads off on a hike.” For “M,” Rand writes, “Mermaid: Moxie Marvels at meeting a magical mermaid.” With something different on each page — ranging from whimsical to practical — the book is as fun to read for adults as it is to hear for children.
Islandport also just released a 2018 desktop calendar with Rand’s seagull illustrations called “Sun. Salt. Happy.” Rand said it’s a fun, inspirational, seasonal themed calendar.
While she had never thought of writing a children’s book before, Rand said this is just the beginning of her publishing adventure.
“I have a bunch of ideas,” Rand said. “The seagull theme I really keep coming back to because I have so many ideas. … I hope there will be another seagull book.”
“ABC Gulls,” retails for $14.95 and is available where children’s books are sold.