The first day of spring provided the perfect opportunity to celebrate the release of the new children’s book, Springtime Birds in My Backyard. Written by Keystone College Professor Karen Yarrish, Ph.D., and illustrated by Keystone Professor David Porter, the book uses rhythm and rhyme to describe the sights and sounds of commonly found birds in North America.
The project provided a unique opportunity for faculty members from two very different programs to collaborate and is a celebration of the liberal arts and sciences in the biological, literary, artistic, and business fields.
Karen, a business professor and faculty coordinator for adult and online learning, is a nature enthusiast who started feeding birds as a way to entertain her indoor cats. As time went by, she became interested in the type of birds that visited her feeders.
She and her husband owned a successful Wild Birds Unlimited franchise, a backyard bird feeding nature store, for nine years. Inspired by helping others learn and appreciate nature, she drafted a rhyming story about springtime birds.
During a meeting on campus, Karen reached out to her colleague Dave, a fine arts professor and professional artist with more than 20 years-experience, with the idea of collaborating on the book.
Dave leapt at the chance to lend his drawing skills to the project. “I’ve always been interested in nature and birds,” said Dave. “The project offered me the opportunity to draw, which I love to do, so it tapped into my interests and talents.”
“Dave is an exceedingly talented artist,” Karen remarked. “He brought the story to life with his amazing drawings, and without his talents, there would be no book.”
The book, which appeals to individuals of all ages without a birding background, was published by the Keystone College Press. Keystone President David L. Coppola, Ph.D., established the press in 2016 to publish scholarly works written by members of Keystone’s faculty, as well as faculty members from regional colleges and universities.
“The collaboration between Karen and Dave offers a wonderful moment in the history of Keystone College and highlights the importance of integrative learning,” said President Coppola.
“We have a professor of business writing poetry about birds for an early childhood education audience, collaborating with a professor of fine arts who brings the book’s words to flight through amazing illustrations,” he continued. “Together they produced a book with our College Press that invites individuals to be life-long learners and to protect and share nature’s beauty.”
Guests of all ages attended the book release celebration during which Dave explained the creative process behind illustrating a book through the presentation of storyboards and preliminary designs. Children also enjoyed a special reading of the book.
The 40-page book features pen-and-ink drawings showing plants in black and white, with color used on the birds and characters for emphasis. The book is available for purchase at most online bookstores.