The story below is from our December/November 2015 issue. For the DIGITALLY ENHANCED VERSION, download our FREE iOS app or view our digital edition for FREE today!
The Fincastle countryside inspires local author and illustrator’s first children’s book.
After a chance meeting at their daughters’ soccer practice, Virginia Barkett and Christine Workowski became both close friends and professional collaborators as author and illustrator, respectively.
Early this year, they self-published their first children’s book, “Song of the Season,” inspired by the changing landscape of the countryside and a dairy farm in Fincastle.
“We are both outdoors people,” says Barkett. “We know each other very well. I knew that she would give her heart to the book.”
The process of creating dozens of illustrations to accompany Barkett’s manuscript was long and tedious, but exceptionally rewarding. After taking photos of a farm and the surrounding area over the course of 18 months, Workowski set to work using rice paper, watercolors and wax to create the pictures.
“I never thought about illustrating for children’s books because it seemed like such a daunting task,” says Workowski. “It is one of the hardest things I’ve done in art. But I’ve always admired and aspired to do something like this.”
Like thousands of contemporary authors, Barkett and Workowski chose to self-publish the book using the service Dog Ear Publishing.
“One of the challenges of self-publishing is the marketing and promotion of the book,” says Barkett. “I’ve been so pleased with the response I’ve gotten within the county.”
“People from the area like that it’s true to the experiences they’ve had through the seasons,” says Workowski.
In addition to reading the book at elementary schools in Botetourt, Barkett has worked to spread the word about “Song of the Season” outside of state lines, even as far as Hawaii. “When my family travels, I try to touch base with a school in the area where we’re going to be,” she says.
Later this fall, the Virginia Association for School Librarians will be celebrating Virginia authors, such as Barkett, at their annual conference in Williamsburg.