Hay River’s Brian Willows releases second children’s book

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A Hay River writer has just released his second illustrated children’s book.

Brian Willows, centre, has released a second children's book called 'Winter's Angels'. To celebrate, he donated five copies to Chris Aitken, left, for Critical Literacy, and another five copies to Christine Gyapay for NWT Centennial Library. Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
Brian Willows, centre, has released a second children’s book called Winter’s Angels. To celebrate, he donated five copies to Chris Aitken, left, for Critical Literacy, and another five copies to Christine Gyapay for the NWT Centennial Library.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

Brian Willows has written Winter’s Angels as a follow-up to his book called Aurora Borealis Christmas in 2015.

Willows said people encouraged him to write a second book.

“So I asked my grandchildren two Christmases ago, I said, ‘What are your favourite things about northern winters?” he recalled. “And they came up with some interesting things, not the least of which was making snow angels, going sledding. My oldest grandson said family and faith, which I’m not sure where it came from but it was a unique comment. So I wanted to build the book around those kind of words and those kind of themes.”

Willows is pleased with the self-published book, which is aimed at younger children who are first learning how to read.

The writer explained his two books don’t share the same theme, just the same season – winter.

Winter’s Angels is built around the beauty of winter in the North, he said.

“Winter is a beautiful time of year up here,” said Willows. “None of us really like the dark or the really cold, but at 20 below and the sun is shining, you get out in the bush there’s nothing more beautiful. It’s just a beautiful country.”

Although the word ‘Angel’ is in the title of the book, Willows said it doesn’t have a religious theme.

“It’s spiritual. But it’s angels in a metaphorical sort of sense,” he explained. “I mean it’s the angels that we all know about, but it’s also snowflakes as angels, it’s children as angels, it’s snow angels in the snow. So it’s sort of a metaphor of all these things that we think may be around us that are angels.”

Willows said, if anything, the book has more of a family and northern message.

As with his first book, the illustrations were created by Willows’ sister-in-law Christine Willows of Victoria, B.C.

On Nov. 5, Willows donated five of the new books to the NWT Centennial Library and another five to Critical Literacy in what he described as a book launch at the library.

Christine Gyapay, the head librarian at NWT Centennial Library, was pleased to get more local literature.

“I have great respect for anybody who sits down and writes a book,” said Gyapay. “It’s a process and it’s something that’s easy to say, ‘One day I’ll write a book. It would be nice to write a book.’ But to sit down and do it, it’s something I have a lot of respect for. And the illustrations are beautiful.”

Chris Aitken, the founder of Critical Literacy, said the books will help with his initiative to help people facing severe difficulties with reading.

Willows noted that, as a fan of ‘Lord of the Rings’, the idea of a trilogy of books appeals to him.

The retired chief operating officer at Northwest Territories Power Corporation was recently named the public administrator of the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority and was also recently elected to Hay River Town Council.