Sunday, April 13, 2008

Healthy Reading For Kids

Kevin Dove always had a knack for getting assignments done right under the wire when he was a senior at Corcoran College of Art and Design. So when he was given the task of creating a children’s story in a class he had the perfect title.
‘‘Sir Nick of Tyme” is the story of Nick, the son of a baker, growing up in the town of Tyme during the Middle Ages.

It’s now 15 years later and the book is finally finished, the author’s tenacity and dedication reflecting the book’s lesson.

A young boy of African descent, Nick dreams of growing up to be a knight. But he is just the son of a baker, not of noble birth, and his dreams of knighthood might go unrealized.Probably not. It is a children’s story after all. It’s moral of perseverance and compassion could easily describe Dove’s journey to publication.

The CEO, creative director and co-owner of Silver Spring-based DigiGraph Media, where he works as the lead 2D⁄3D animator, compositor and editor, Dove published ‘‘Sir Nick of Tyme” last month.

His church, Matthews Memorial Baptist in Washington, D.C., where he serves as a deacon, was one of the first customers to buy in bulk.

His youngest daughter, Jessica, 6, is his leading salesperson. ‘‘She can throw it into a conversation,” said Dove, who lives in White Plains. ‘‘We’ll be at the gas station and she’ll say, ‘Grade 87, that’s good. That’s what my dad’s using and he’s a famous author.’ All of Berry Elementary [School] knows about the book.” That’s because Jessica and her sister, Jasmine, 11, both attend the school. If the truth be told, it was probably Jasmine who pushed her father to revisit the story of Nick and his quest for knighthood. A storyteller and an illustrator like her father; Jasmine has already completed and illustrated two or three stories. It was a feat that Dove couldn’t let go unnoticed. His 11-year-old accomplished more than he did in less time. It was time to finally finish what he started 15 years ago.

The story started out as a coloring book. Technology wasn’t advanced enough for what Dove wanted to do with the tale. With his wife, Veronica as editor, Dove delved back into writing and illustrating. And let it be known, Veronica is a vicious editor, Dove said.
‘‘She is the best editor in the world,” he clarified, but her suggestions left him a bit stunned.
‘‘It took me a month to embrace her changes,” Dove admitted. ‘‘It took me 15 years and I put that word there for a reason ...” He trailed off, adding that maybe the edits would alter the story in such a way it wouldn’t remotely resemble what he created. Then, he took another look.
‘‘Doggone,” he said. ‘‘This is a pretty good book.” Veronica had a stake in this book, too. When Dove got serious about finishing it, she had reservations. He worked full time, was a hands-on dad and had commitments to the church. Where would he find time? But the book soon became a family project. ‘‘It seemed to go by in a fun way,” Veronica said. ‘‘Just like Nick, he got through it using perseverance.”

The illustrations took some time to complete. Dove was searching for a look that wasn’t too foreign to tech-savvy kids or too commonplace. ‘‘I wanted to push the imagery,” he said. ‘‘Make it look a little bit different.” The pages are not white, but the color of parchment, the typeface is ‘‘Olde English”-looking. He added a comic element after Jasmine declared that the story needed a little humor; the cover resembles a leather-bound edition of a classic. The story starts with a piece of scripture from Psalm 37:4. ‘‘Delight thyself also in the Lord and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” It sums up Nick’s journey, Dove said. Every thing about the production was thought out. It helped that his daughters were there every step of the way acting like sort of a test group.

Dove comes by his artistic abilities naturally. His father, Lawrence, was all set to pack up and go off to design cars during the Golden Age of Detroit. But he met his wife, Linda, and settled in Maryland, working as an auto body mechanic. Growing up, Dove was the kid who was constantly drawing. First he was wrapped up in the world of TV cartoon ‘‘Speed Racer,” scribbling bottlenose cars with big fins. He branched out into the realm of superheros before a cultural phenomenon hit theaters. ‘‘Then George Lucas unleashed ‘Star Wars’ and it flipped my world,” said Dove, who as a preteen staged stop-action movies using armies of action figures, running up his parents’ electric bill in the process. ‘‘They were always supportive even if they didn’t know exactly what it was I was doing,” he said. ‘‘As long as it wasn’t destructive.” Now, they are just happy Dove has finally completed ‘‘Sir Nick of Tyme.” But he isn’t done yet. He has plans for more books and maybe for the return of Nick in other stories. Dove wrote the book for his daughters as well as other children, and he hopes he can impact at least one young life. ‘‘I want to have a positive influence on a child,” he said. ‘‘If, 10 years from now, a child comes up to me and says they are going to pursue their dream like Nick, that’s why I did it.”


Ana said...

That book sound super cute! I'll have to check it out for my 6 year old. He LUVS books. I love that it's centered around a black child.

Kisha Jones said...

I purchased the book and my son and I read it often. Very cute story with a great message. I look forward to the next book!