In 2007, writer Louise Bradford encountered a moose while on a camping trip at Lake Superior Provincial Park.
10 years later, Bradford has transformed that encounter into her first illustrated children’s book, entitled Wade’s Wiggly Antlers, which will be released May 2, available at Coles and through Amazon.
A launch party for the book will take place May 27 at the Sault’s Cafe Natura, located at 75 Elgin Street.
“I feel really grateful, it’s huge for me to have a children’s book published, as a writer, as a former early childhood educator and as a parent,” said Bradford, a Sault native.
“Coles will be there at the launch party…they’re really supportive,” Bradford told SooToday.
Bradford works as a speech writer for the federal government’s Ministry of Agriculture and Agri-Food office in Ottawa.
She comes from a creative family.
Her father Ken Bradford and uncle Doug Bradford are well known and highly respected Sault Ste. Marie artists.
“(While camping at Lake Superior Provincial Park) I parked my car and hiked to my spot. I had to go back to my car to get some supplies, and on my way back on the path I saw a little moose,” Bradford recalled.
“This little moose was standing, staring at me. We stared at each other for a brief moment, then he scampered off into the woods. I thought ‘that little moose looks like he likes to have fun. One day I should write something about him.’”
“That’s where the whole idea for the book came about, but it took quite a number of years before I decided what the story would be,” Bradford said.
Wade’s Wiggly Antlers is about a young moose who learns he is going to lose his first set of antlers.
“He’s worried, because he uses his antlers to play with his friends…I did a lot of research and I was at the library and learned moose lose their antlers every year so that bigger ones can grow, which I did not know at the time.”
“One book mentioned moose antlers look like handlebars, and as soon as I read that, I thought ‘that’s funny.’”
“I could imagine a little moose with little animals hanging on to his antlers as he’s romping through the woods.”
“What would it feel like for a young moose, if those antlers suddenly get wiggly and fall off? That’s a big deal!”
The book has a life lesson, Bradford said.
“It’s like a child losing his baby teeth, it’s about change, and that change can be challenging, but it’s okay, it’s a part of life. That’s basically what it’s saying.”
Bradford wrote the story and submitted it to a Writers Union of Canada competition, and it placed in the top 10.
After such a good showing, Bradford said she was advised to submit the story to three Canadian children’s book publishers.
She did so, but Bradford said she did not think she would receive a callback from any of them.
“It’s very, very hard to get published in children’s publishing, it’s like winning the lottery.”
However, in 2014, an editor with one of the publishers, Kids Can Press, contacted Bradford and told her the story had potential.
The publisher worked with the book’s illustrator (Christine Battuz) for several months leading up to the official release date of May 2.
Bradford will also be on hand with Wade’s Wiggly Antlers at a Snuggle Up and Read literacy awareness event at St. Joseph’s Elementary School in Wawa May 24.
“I started writing in high school in a creative writing class in Grade 10. Taking that course really got me interested in writing.”
After high school, Bradford went into early childhood education.
“I worked in day care and I was always amazed by the children’s books, and I always dreamed of writing my own one day.”
“When my own kids went to school, I started to think what do I want to do, and I remembered how much I liked writing,” Bradford said.
She began freelance writing, and has already had a short story published, as well as a short film produced by CBC.
That five minute film, entitled Full Circle, was also screened in 2005 at the Sault’s own Shadows of the Mind Film Festival.
“Even when I wasn’t writing for periods of time, I was always in that mode, if you’re not physically writing you’re thinking of a story,” Bradford said.
“It’s an internal joy, it’s like play to me.”
Wade’s Wiggly Antlers will also be available for children to enjoy at libraries across Canada, as well as in Ann Arbor, Michigan, New York, San Francisco and Seattle.