P.E.I. couple finds winning formula for writing, illustrating kid's books

Meet the P.E.I. couple who team up to write and illustrate children's books, Christina and Shaun Patterson, who are releasing their latest, Monster Babies.

Christina Patterson illustrates, her husband Shaun writes, their latest is called Monster Babies

Christina and Shaun Patterson are respectively the illustrator and author of the children's book Monster Babies. (CBC)

For children's books, you almost always have a team — a writer, and an illustrator.

A P.E.I. couple, Christina and Shaun Patterson, had half the job covered, as both were illustrators, until fate stepped in.

"I was doing a fairy book, and I hadn't quite found a writer yet," Christina told Angela Walker of CBC Mainstreet. "So I just decided that I'd try out Shaun writing, and it worked out perfectly. We worked well as a team, so that's how it all started."

Fairies On My Island was published in 2013, and since then the couple have had the opportunity to work on a further five kid's books together, including the brand-new Monster Babies.

The brightly coloured monsters jump off the pages thanks to Christina Patterson's sculpture technique. (CBC)
"These little monster babies are really any of us as babies," said Shaun Patterson. "The idea of these kind of fun what ifs: What if you were a baby werewolf, what if you were a baby sea monster, and what would be the fun things about that. Ideas that kids always fantasize about, not having to eat your vegetables, being able to stay up late, being able to be rambunctious without getting into trouble, all these childhood fantasies made true."

Monster sculptures

The book features Christina's unique style of illustration.

"Some of my books I've been doing sculpture," she said. "For the fairy book, for those who haven't seen it, it's sculptures put into P.E.I. landscapes, or gardens, or within flowers, so taking a nature element and mixing it with the sculpture. With Monster Babies, I took photographs of the sculptures, and then brought them into the computer and played around with colours and adding some more elements into them."

They still work on projects separately, but working together on children's books has made life and work even more fun.

Shaun Patterson says the demographic for this kind of children's book is about two to four years old, even kids not old enough to read them yet, but who enjoy the pictures. (CBC)
"It's really a labour of love for us," Shaun said. "It allows us to not only work together on these projects and have a lot of fun, but as artists we're two people who have really been inspired by the books that we loved as children, so there really is a reciprocal thing where we're giving back and hopefully creating things that will excite the next generation of children, and hopefully offer something that's a little bit different from the usual fare."

The book launch for Monster Babies is happening Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. at the Confederation Centre library, and Christina is going to bring some of her sculptures so kids and parents can take a look.

With files from Mainstreet