Former CQ cattle breeder launches Highland children's book
AFFECTIONATELY known as the 'Heilan Coo', a certain breed of cattle is getting its chance in the spotlight with the release of a CQ children's book.
The book Kenzie In Search Of A Friend is the brain child of author, carer and former CQ journalist, Erica Smith.
While living in Moranbah, Ms Smith spent a lot of her time rescuing native animals and breeding Brahmans.
However, after moving to Victoria in 2012, she discovered a love for Highland cattle.
"[I] decided on Highland cattle for their temperament and their mothering ability, among other things," she said.
"Plus, they are just gorgeous to look at."
When she tasked her illustrator friend, Ashleigh Webb, with the task of sketching her a new logo for her cattle breeding and showing, she was struck with the idea of writing her own children's book.
"I sent her a photo of one of my calves and she sent me back something I knew wasn't suitable as a logo, but the second I saw it I knew I had my story," she said.
"The inspiration came from the image, the antics of my own cows, and the native animals that are around.
"I also wanted it to have a message and purpose."
Ms Smith also brought her designer friend, Alicia Axnick, onto the project to provide water colours for the illustrations.
The story centres around a Highland calf, Kenzie, who is searching for a friend "just like her".
Kenzie sets off through the Australian bush to find a friend like her, but meets a whole range of other friends.
"The basic message is that we don't have to be the same to be friends," Ms Smith said.
"We can be friends with a variety of people (or in this case animals), in all shapes and sizes and ages.
"A second underlying message is to help people where we can."
Ms Smith said these messages are particularly important for young people who live in an age where bullying is prevalent.
"We don't always embrace the uniqueness of other people and as much as we hate to admit it, there is an element of needing to be the same to be friends," she said.
"Children don't have that as much, but I still think it's important to teach children, especially from a young age, that we can find new friends everywhere."
Despite the challenges of self-publishing, Ms Smith has sold almost 1000 books, 300 of which have been sent to schools, libraries and children in rural Australia.
"I pushed Ashleigh and Alicia pretty hard to meet the deadline of launching at the National Western Stock Show in Denver Colorado, January 2018, as this is the USA National Highland Show," she said.
"There are quite a lot of US highland cattle breeders, so I saw this as a great place to launch. I sold almost 100 books that first month."
Kenzie's second adventure is currently in the works, with a number of other books in various stages of writing and plenty of other ideas on the horizon to expand the Kenzie experience.
Buy the book at http://etsy.me/2Fi6DIn