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Oakbank dad dives into children’s literature

By: Jordan Ross

Posted: 02/11/2018 7:15 AM

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Oakbank resident Ryan Forbes shows off his first children’s book, which uses a unique illustration style that combines watercolour painting, photography, and graphics software.


Oakbank resident Ryan Forbes shows off his first children’s book, which uses a unique illustration style that combines watercolour painting, photography, and graphics software.


An Oakbank man has made his first foray into children’s literature with the release of a work that blends his unique illustration style with a lifelong love of storytelling.

Ryan Forbes said it was a thrill to receive the first copies of One Hundred Thousand Some-Things in the mail last month, after self-publishing through FriesenPress.

"I’ve always written stories," he said. "It was when I had my own kids that it kind of reignited that desire to publish."

The book is the result of five years of work, but began as an impromptu bedtime story for his oldest son, James.

"He kept asking for this one over and over again. I thought, ‘Oh, I might be on to something here,’" Forbes said.

Later, a rummage through the basement helped kick start the creative process.

"My wife and I were cleaning out the basement and there was a big Rubbermaid bin of all these books that I made when I was a kid," Forbes recalled. "I started thinking about what story I should write."

The book’s main character would eventually be named after his younger son, Sebastian, but the essential plot remained: in a magical world, a boy tries to convince an army of small creatures called Some-Things to hold their boisterous party somewhere other than his bedroom.

A striking multimedia illustration style is employed throughout.

"It’s a mixture of painting, photography, and Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I just kind of made it up as I went," Forbes said.

While the colourful, layered illustrations were time-consuming—"hours and hours per page"—Forbes said producing a visually appealing book was important to him.

"I wanted to make it really detailed because on the ebook, it’s cool to zoom in on each character," he said.

Readers are taking note. Forbes said old friends are getting in touch to tell him how much their children enjoy the story.

"The reaction has been really, really good," he said, adding his own children still request readings regularly.

"It’s in high rotation here too."

Later in February, Forbes will accept an invitation to read the book at Oak Bank Elementary to mark I Love to Read Month.

He acknowledged it was a little nerve-wracking to publish his work after so many years of drawing and writing in the privacy of his own home.

"It’s hard to put yourself out there," he admitted.

But the risk proved to be worth the reward.

"I can’t really describe the feeling it gives me when people message me saying, ‘My kid loves the book,’" he said.

The experience has been so positive that Forbes is already at work on a second children’s book.

"As soon as I was done illustrating this, I started on another one, because I get such a joy out of it," he said.

One Hundred Thousand Some-Things is available locally in hardcover or paperback editions at Shear Madness Hair Spa in Oakbank, or directly from the author at An ebook edition is also available through online retailers and FriesenPress.

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