Children’s Christmas book illustrated with eye to sky

Brian Willows Writer of Aurora Borealis Christmas New children's book Aug. 13, 2015 Hay River Photo by Paul Bickford Northern News Services Ltd.

Brian Willows
Writer of Aurora Borealis Christmas
New children’s book
Aug. 13, 2015
Hay River
Photo by Paul Bickford
Northern News Services Ltd.

Even though it is the dog days of summer, a Hay River man has just released a Christmas book for children.

The book by Brian Willows is called Aurora Borealis Christmas.

“It started off as a little story I wrote for my grandkids a couple of years ago that I’d read to them on Christmas Eve,” he said. “And after looking at it for a while, I thought this would probably make a pretty cool story, given the aurora borealis and my sister-in-law is a very talented painter. So we put our two heads together and came up with this.”

His sister-in-law is Christine Willows of Victoria, B.C.

Like most other works for young children, the slim, soft-cover book is mainly illustrations with minimal words for youngsters just being introduced to reading.

“I guess it’s still in the age group where we’re still talking about Santa Claus, but I think it might have a bigger audience because of the artwork and the aurora borealis,” Willows said. “I mean there’s a lot of fascination, not only in our country but around the world, with the aurora, and the artwork is spectacular. So hopefully people might be interested in just the pictures themselves.”

The story revolves around Santa Claus being guided by the Northern lights.

The book has been in the works for almost two years, mostly to find a printer and to allow Christine Willows to do the paintings.

“I think we’ve come up with a product that everybody’s happy with,” said Brian Willows.

On Aug. 13, he donated five of the new books to NWT Centennial Library.

“It’s a wonderful achievement,” said head librarian Christine Gyapay. “I applaud somebody who takes the initiative and the creativity to put a book like that forward.”

Gyapay explained the idea for such a book is that children would initially have it read to them but that they would read it themselves once they’re more familiar with simple text.

“So it’s an easy reader, picture book,” she said, adding that pictures are as important as the words to young children first making the connection and learning to read.

“I love it, I really do,” she said of Aurora Borealis Christmas. “I love the artwork. And it follows so nicely with the text. It’s a beautiful little story. I think it’s really nicely done.”

This is Brian Willows’ first book.

The 62-year-old is retired from the Northwest Territories Power Corporation, where he was the chief operating officer.

His move into writing is not a money-making effort, he said with a laugh. “I’m certainly not going to base my future financial stability on it, that’s for sure. It just seemed like a cool thing to do.”

In fact, Willows hopes the book might become sort of a family heirloom for his grandchildren and their children.

“And who knows, maybe there will be a lot of interest in the public, as well,” he said.

To start, Willows has printed 400 copies, which was done with $3,500 from the NWT Arts Council. He plans to sell them at places like fall fairs and Christmas bazaars.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to NWT Centennial Library.

-Paul Bickford