Local author writes children’s book highlighting prairie
Author Josie Hudson and artist Larry Love have spent their entire lives in the Texas Panhandle. Now, that love for the region has led to a series of childrens books illustrating and educating their target audience on the prairie.
Starting in 2014, Pe-Pie-Po the Prairie Dog has gone on a series of adventures in books titled “Pe-Pie-Po Finds a Forest,” “Pe Pie Po, the Armadillo and the Coyote” and “Pe-Pie-Po, the Rattler and the Blizzard.”
“I’ve grown up on the prairie all of my life and I really love it,” Hudson said. “When I went to college at West Texas in Canyon, I had some roommates that were from other parts of the country and they thought this was the ugliest place they had ever been.
“I wanted to write a book that would show kiddos how amazing the prairie really is with all of its different critters, plants and amazing things that happen here.”
The showcase has now been spaced out across the three books that are sold in visitor centers across the Texas Panhandle, Amazon, bookstores and in many elementary school libraries.
“They are at the Burrowing Owl in Canyon, visitor center at Palo Duro, Valley Pecans in Chillicothe and I visit schools to read to elementary-aged kids kindergarten to fifth grade,” Hudson said.
Through the Window on a Wider World, Hudson and Love will often go to elementary schools and Love will make illustrations for the children while Hudson reads her books.
“It has made it easier on me (going through WoWW),” Hudson said. “I’m not having to call the schools and set it up like that. I had done some schools in Kansas and Oklahoma. But I hadn’t done as many as I have now (through WoWW). We usually do 30 to 40 schools in a school year. This year (because of COVID-19) we have only done 24.”
Hudson, a substitute teacher for Miami ISD, is self-published and said the first book took a year-and-a-half to push the book through the process.
“A lot of that was getting my copyright, my ISBN, finding an illustrator, a printer, etc.,” Hudson said. “Now we’ve got it down to six months. Love does about 30 to 35 illustrations per book.”
Hudson eventually found Love during the process of the first book and interestingly enough, Love went to school with Hudson’s parents in Spearman.
“I wrote the book and finding an illustrator took a really long time,” Hudson said. “I asked a friend here in Pampa who didn’t feel comfortable doing it, but she thought Larry might. So I went to him, saw his portfolio and loved his work.”
Love has been a serious artist since 1990 and this was his first published illustrating project.
“My main art is portraiture,” Love said. “I’ve got a painting in the lobby of the Pampa Post Office and I’ve done a mural at the White Deer Land Museum.”
The process of making the illustrations for the pages starts with reading what Hudson writes then forming the picture in his mind of how he wants the illustration to turn out.
“You form a picture in your head and you just draw it,” Love said. “I’ve got the easy part.”
Hudson lauded Love’s work and said “there has never been a picture I’ve told him ‘I don’t like it, can you do another one.’”
Love is retired and does commission art but also enjoys getting to be more creative with his work.
“I’ve done a lot of mouse pictures here lately,” Love said. “Pictures of mice bowling with marbles, or playing croquet with marbles, riding on birds, etc. All kinds of things.”
Love’s illustrations are in colored pencil for the first book (the forest), colored pencil and the acrylic in the second (armadillo and coyote) and a mix of both half/half colored pencil and acrylic in the third one (rattlesnake and blizzard).
Hudson has a fourth book written inspired by the wildfires in recent years and is also working on getting a novel published, with a medieval/fantasy setting.
Hudson does have a Facebook page under “Pe-Pie-Po by Josie Hudson” where not only does she promote her books, but also includes interesting prairie pictures related to the books.
For more information, visit their Facebook page at https://bit.ly/3lNaGRa.