Barrie resident Margot Edge spent 30 years teaching her young students how to read, write and create stories.
Now, as she approaches her 85th birthday, she has published one of her very own: Follow the Red Wagon.
“I saw this little boy in a wagon holding a pumpkin and I don’t know why it stayed with me, because this was decades ago, but it got me wondering where he was going next and what they’d be doing with the pumpkin,” she tells BarrieToday.
That ultimately prompted her to create a story following the wagon through three seasons and the various life events that occur during those seasons.
“We start with spring and the wagon has been put away for the winter," says Edge, who was a teacher with the Toronto District School Board. "The doors open and he bursts out as his hibernation is over.”
Barrie-based illustrator Valerie Losell has taken local settings — such as the Barrie Public Library, the downtown Farmers' Market, and a road in Oro-Medonte Township — and included those images throughout, Edge says.
“We wanted a local feel to the book and she’s done a wonderful job with that," the author adds.
This is the first book for the retired teacher, but won’t be her last, with the next one already in the layout and design stage.
Working on her first book was "scary," and definitely involved quite the learning curve, Edge says.
“This is all done online and I am not that savvy when it comes to technology, but I have a grandson who is and he saved the day many times,” she says. “I know I had some stressful times, but it was exciting because I was working alongside someone who had wonderful ideas and that gives you the impetus to keep going.”
When she first saw her book, she admits it was pretty exciting.
“You’re stroking it and it’s a beautiful cover and the kind you want to touch," she says. "I didn’t want shiny pages because Valerie’s work is watercolour and when I pick up some children’s books they're very commercial looking. We think this is kind of vintage.”
Edge will be at the farmer’s market the next two Saturdays with her own red wagon and copies of the book. Copies will also be available at Homestead Artisan Bakery in downtown Barrie, as well as online.
A portion of the sales will be donated through the local Grandmothers and Grandothers group to supporting the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which helps raise awareness and mobilize support for African grandmothers raising children orphaned by AIDS.