Spot the dogs

Nicholas Mercer
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Picture book challenges young readers to find Newfoundland dog, Labrador retriever

Find Scruncheon and Touton will be released May 7 at the Avalon Mall.

Two artists from Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s are hoping that children in Newfoundland and Labrador will stop looking for Waldo and start looking for two animals.

Mother and daughter Nancy Keating and Laurel Keating are releasing a book of illustrations that will encourage children to find two dogs instead of a skinny man with glasses and a tuque in a red and white striped sweater.

The book, “Find Scruncheon and Touton: All Around Newfoundland,”  features a Newfoundland dog and a golden Labrador retriever amid scenes that will be familiar to people in this province.

Nancy and 18-year-old Laurel both contributed illustrations to the book.

“Laurel drew all of the people and animals,” Nancy said.

Nancy wanted a book that celebrated Newfoundland and thought reaching out to children would be a good way to do it.

“It’s for kids,” she said. “I love drawing for children, and there’s been nothing like this.”

The dogs were chosen because of their significance in this province.

“They really are iconic, aren’t they?” said Nancy. “We tend to think of them as ours. They represent both parts of the province.”

Nancy said working with her daughter was an excellent experience.

“We work well together and we complement each other,” she said.

 Donna Francis, editor of Creative Book Publishing, said it’s the first time the company has published a book aimed at very young children.

“We have published lots of picture storybooks, but never one with only pictures and aimed at a younger audience,”  Francis said, adding the company has had requests for such books.

“The request comes in the form of a question usually — ‘Do you have a young kids’ book?’ Before now the answer has always been no,” she said.

“We hope people who buy this book are people who have been to these places … people who buy it for grandchildren or their kids and send it away.”

The book is like a virtual tour of the province. There are scenes that will be familiar to readers, but they are more like impressions of the real thing.

There’s a scene of a bustling downtown complete with buskers. Another shows a boat race, undoubtedly based on the Royal St. John’s Regatta. Each drawing has its own set of treasures to uncover.

“We didn’t want to show favouritism to parts of the province over others,” says Nancy Keating. “People will know it is the Salmonier Nature Park, but we don’t say it.”

She hopes to create a series of the books, but will wait to see how the first one does before making any decisions.

To launch the book, Creative Book Publishing will host a book signing in front of Coles bookstore in the Avalon Mall May 7.

“We wanted to have a Newfoundland dog and retriever there, but the mall wouldn’t let us,” said Francis.

There is word that Salty, the mascot from the Downhome store, will make an appearance.

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Portugal Cove, Salmonier Nature Park

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