For years he was part of the commute between Victoria and Nanoose Bay and now, not only has Howard the world’s tallest gnome found a home in Saanich, he’s starring in a new children’s book.
Because Howard is not just any gnome, it isn’t just any book, and that’s because Lindsay Ford isn’t just any author. The book, Howard, is a look at Howard’s life being uprooted and moved to a new place. It mimics the experience that children have when they’re forced to move. The book is due out Oct. 13.
“As a kid, I moved around a lot,” said Ford, who lives in Nanaimo. “We were in Toronto and I moved to B.C. at 12 years old. It was catastrophic. I had to be the new kid, to make friends in the unknown.
“So I looked at Howard from a humanist aspect. How does he feel, what and who will he miss, and why did he move?”
In reality, Howard’s been around decades from his birth as a mascot for the Nanoose Bay Family Fun Park. The park was decommissioned long ago and Howard became a roadside landmark at the gas station where the park once was. Ultimately, the new owners weren’t prepared for the maintenance of an eight-metre tall, world-record setter, and Howard began to break down. That’s when family members from the previous owner put out the call for help in early 2019. Along came Rob Galey, whose Saanich farm on Blenkinsop Road blends agriculture with tourism, and is already home to several movie props and sets.
Fixed up and with a new paint job (his green tunic is now blue), Howard now oversees Galey’s famous pumpkin patch, where thousands of children visit each year. The book looks at Howard’s eviction, his life facing the threat of homelessness, before finding a home.
“I didn’t know Howard until I got here,” Ford said. “Think of all the kids that saw him [while travelling] and know him. Do giants get homesick? What happens when giants move? It considers what happens when we move, things can be intense.”
As an independent publisher, author and illustrator, Ford publishes books for others but also has her own spin on children’s books.
Howard is the sixth book in Ford’s Awkward and Awesome Series, which includes The Grandpa that Never Grew Up and The Ugly Food Book, a story of misfit produce looking for love. There’s also her most popular book, The Granny That Never Got Old, from September 2019.
“Granny took off with the seniors’ population, I ended up doing a lot of in-house seniors reading,” Ford said. “I have messages from older women telling me their girlfriend loved it and took their copy, so now they need a new one.”
The children’s books aren’t just for kids, they’re for all ages, they just happen to fit the mould of the children’s book genre, she said. And Ford also has adult-only books, such as Unicorns are for A**holes.
“We think they’re magical but, are they really?” Ford said. “We don’t know.”
Howard can be pre-ordered through Ford’s website at breadandclutter.com.
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