Catapult Man leaping onto local book shelves

Raissa Tetanish
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Pugwash author teaching kids about playground safety

PUGWASH - Norene Smiley wanted to do two things with her latest children's picture book - get across playground safety and have fun while doing it.
"Keeping in mind what I wanted to say with the book, I wanted it to be fun," the Pugwash author said about her latest effort, Simon and Catapult Man's Perilous Playground Adventure.
"The idea of Catapult Man was to kind of remove the parent saying, 'don't do this' or 'don't do that'."
The book, which was illustrated by Brenda Jones from Montreal, was put together by the IWK Health Centre's Child Safety Link program to encourage safe play on the playground.
Having been pointed in the direction of Nimbus Publishing, Smiley and Jones were chosen after a few writers and illustrators with works published by Nimbus had their previous material reviewed.
Smiley says she put together three different proposals for the book, where she weighed the concept of Catapult Man more heavily compared to the other two.
"The book is one of rules and Simon is kind of like the parent," she said, adding Catapult Man gets into dangerous situations on the playground so Simon has to redirect and save him.
"I had more fun with the two levels of reality - the safety on the playground and the child's imaginative play," she said.
Joining Simon and Catapult Man is Simon's little sister, Tulip, who Simon says is too little to participate in the adventure.
"But in the end, Tulip comes and saves Simon and Catapult Man, and I like that," Smiley said.
Coming up with a name for the superhero was one of difficulties, says Smiley, in that most of the names she came up with had been taken.
""So I took a word that I liked the sound of, and added 'man' to the end of it. Eventually I found one that wasn't taken, and I think Catapult Man actually works well in the playground setting."
Smiley says much of the book depended on the illustrations by Jones, because the author doesn't want to spell everything out in text.
Smiley started writing more than 30 years ago, and has worked with children's writers and taught creative writing courses.
"Writing is fun when you get into the zone because there are often times when you surprise yourself," she said. "Teaching the courses, I like seeing how people make decisions and grow on their own."
Simon and Catapult Man is Smiley's second book to be published, following That Stripey Cat in 2007.
Smiley is working on another book, and has also started making films. Her and her husband, Greg, have operated the Chatterbox CafÉ in Pugwash for three years.

Organizations: IWK Health Centre, Simon's

Geographic location: Pugwash, Montreal

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