A first-time author in Langdon is celebrating the recent publication of her new book – a children’s story that teaches kids about unorthodox animals.
Devin-Leigh Hunter’s book, Clark’s Unorthodox Animal Park, was released on Nov. 18. Hunter said the book is a scrapbook-style compilation of some lesser-known species, with facts, descriptions, and colourful illustrations of each animal.
“It goes through an alphabet of strange animals you wouldn’t normally see in a children’s book,” the 20-year-old writer explained. “There are things like the albatross, the echidna – animals you don’t usually see or hear about.”
As described on Hunter's author website, the book follows the characters Jordan and Blake, two animal lovers who encounter the unique species while journeying through Clark's animal park. All three characters are named after Hunter's younger siblings.
According to Hunter, the idea for the book stemmed from her relationship with two of her younger brothers. She said her three-year-old brother Clark (who the book is named after) and her 16-year-old brother Blake are both obsessed with animals.
One night, Hunter said she, Blake, and their sister Jordan were musing about how most of the children’s books they would read to Clark featured the same core animals, such as alligators, bees, and bears. They thought it would be interesting to compile a list of lesser-known animals starting with each letter of the alphabet.
After coming up with their list, Hunter said the idea quickly took root in her mind to put them all in a children’s book complete with illustrations and informational tidbits on each animal.
“It actually was supposed to just be something I was going to make and print off for my family, but my family is a bunch of loudmouths, so it kind of blew up,” Hunter said.
Hunter said she got to work writing the book and drawing up the illustrations of each unique animal. She said many of the drawings were based on pictures the family had taken during a trip to the Calgary Zoo.
After working on it for three months, Hunter said the book was ready to be published.
“I was sick for a while, so was able to just sit in my room and write and draw, so I put it together pretty quickly,” she said.
Taking the self-publishing root, Hunter said the process was stressful, but an affordable way to make her book a reality.
“Self-publishing is a great way to start because the initial investment for me to make a hardcover book, a paperback, and an eBook was about $200, whereas traditional publishing costs over $3,000,” she said. “So it’s a great way to get out there and started, and despite the obstacles, it was actually a lot of fun. I’d do it again.”
For anyone who is thinking of publishing a children’s book, Hunter encourages them to pursue their creative ideas.
“This has probably been one of the most exciting things I’ve done in recent years,” she said, adding the book’s reception among her friends, family, and other Langdonites has been overwhelmingly positive.
“I think we got over 30 orders in the first two hours of the pre-order, which was initially supposed to just be close relatives. So it’s been very exciting.”
When she’s not writing in her free time, Hunter said she is studying to pursue a future career in medicine, while also trying to launch what would be Langdon’s first Escape Room business.
Hunter is relatively new to Rocky View County, having moved to Langdon in 2021 after previously living in Calgary and Brantford, Ont.
She said her new community has really rallied behind her new book.
“Langdon has been incredible,” she said. “Everyone has been so supportive. I’ve gotten a lot of neighbours who asked to order a book, which has been really sweet. It’s such a welcoming community, which has been very nice.”
To order a copy of Clark’s Unorthodox Animal Park, visit Hunter’s author website at devin-leigh.ca