This weekend, there will be lots of cool planes at SkyFest, but there will also be another exciting attraction — a new book written about the airshow’s mascot, Linda the Giraffe.
The Flying Giraffe is a new children’s book written by L.G.A. (Linda) McIntyre and illustrated by Anita Baziuk, and it follows Linda the Giraffe as she travels the world with the CF-18 Demo Team. Linda goes all over North America and Europe with the team, collecting pins and stickers to commemorate the places she visits and having her picture taken with people like Canadian astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield, inspired by the real travels of the real wooden Linda mascot.
“Having this great big wealth of material to draw from made writing the book almost too easy,” said McIntyre. “You can’t make some of that up. The CF-18 team was instrumental, and they are central characters in the book because they made Linda’s dream come true to travel the world.”
Linda the Giraffe began her working career as an ornament at the Billy Barker Casino Hotel, and in the book, McIntyre and Baziuk pay homage to that.
“One thing we did in the book that was a wink and a nod to Quesnel is Linda lives in a castle where two rivers meet,” said McIntyre. “It is so nice to be able to write something like this because it has such local meaning.
“I think people are going to love it. Kids will love it. It’s really cute, and I’m very, very proud of what we were able to create.”
This book is two years in the making.
A couple of years ago, McIntyre was working with the SkyFest Society and was the assistant show manager for the 2017 airshow. She was working in the airport office when a little boy was looking at Linda, the tall wooden giraffe, and poking at all her pins and stickers.
“I started telling him the story of the giraffe from a child’s perspective,” she said. “All of a sudden, it clicked a lightbulb in my head that this would be a great children’s story.”
McIntyre sat down and started writing on her lunch break, and she had the story roughed out by the end of the day.
At this point, they were eight weeks out from the airshow. McIntyre got in touch with her friend Anita Baziuk about doing the illustrations for the book.
“She went just overtime crazy and got all our pictures done,” she said. “She probably got them done in three weeks. She was just working like mad. She came up with this beautiful character for Linda, and she researched all the planes. We just had so much fun with it.”
McIntyre put the book together, and the SkyFest Society was very committed to it when the wildfires hit, and the airshow had to be cancelled.
McIntyre promised SkyFest the first rights to the book, so she didn’t publish the book until this year. The Flying Giraffe will debut this weekend, and SkyFest has the first 100 copies to sell at the airshow.
“After waiting this long to have it released, it is the best feeling in the world,” McIntyre said of being able to hold the published book. “I know it’s going to be an amazing success, and I think little kids are going to be so excited.”
After this weekend, The Flying Giraffe will be released to a wider audience and will be sold online and as an e-book, and people will be able to order the book through Books and Company.
“Nowadays, you don’t have to live in Toronto or Vancouver to market and publish books because it’s done almost even exclusively online,” said McIntyre, who lives in Quesnel and works as a teacher at the College of New Caledonia. “It’s a really nice lifestyle, to be able to come back to my hometown and to be able to do what I love.”
When she isn’t writing a children’s book about a flying giraffe, McIntyre writes action-adventure fantasy, and she is about to publish her fourth novel in the Lies of Lesser Gods series.