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An author's tale of the ‘attack’ that changed her life

Trudy Davies published her first children’s book, Butterfly Dreams: Milo’s Adventure, last year and a sequel is already in the works. - Evan Seal / The Leader
Trudy Davies published her first children’s book, Butterfly Dreams: Milo’s Adventure, last year and a sequel is already in the works.
— image credit: Evan Seal / The Leader

Trudy Davies has always painted recreationally when brief periods of creative momentum, or “craft attacks,” as she calls them, are too strong to resist.

Recently, for medical reasons, Davies has been unable to work, and her bouts of creativity have taken on another dimension.

The occupational therapist found her own therapy in art and one particular “attack” turned out a project she didn’t know she had in her.

Butterfly Dreams: Milo’s Adventure is the children’s book that resulted and has Davies sharing her work all over the Lower Mainland. She gave a presentation on illustrating children’s books in October at a Thursday Artist Talks session held by the Surrey Art Gallery Association, and she’s been busy reading her book to elementary school children – with more readings scheduled this month.

Butterfly Dreams tells the tale of a young boy who misses his butterfly friend he met in the summer. With the onset of winter, the boy is left sullen, until one night he observes an eagle out his window and falls into a peaceful sleep. The eagle sweeps him off into a nighttime dreamland and together they explore the natural wonders of the world, which Davies illustrated with original paintings.

The idea of writing a children’s book had been floating around in Davies’ mind for a few months when she sat down spontaneously and began to write a poem.

“It just flowed out of my hands,” she recalled. “I was amazed because I hadn’t written a poem… probably since first-year university, which was many moons ago,” she says, laughing.

The mother of two grown daughters, 24 and 26, Davies laughs often. A butterfly pendant around her neck and pewter earrings, shaped as feathers, accent her warm features. She speaks with hesitation, but concisely once she finds her words.

“I express myself in writing more easily,” she says, adding that although creative writing is a relatively new enterprise for her she wrote “many, many reports” throughout her career.

What she likes about creative writing is sharing beauty, “being able to make people smile, laugh, touching their feelings in a positive way… those things touch me in a positive way,” she said.

When Davies shared the poem with her family, her daughter was a source of encouragement. She vividly remembered bedtime stories her mother told her when she was young about a magic butterfly that would whisk her off on flying, wondrous adventures and lull her into a happy sleep – and she loved it.

The theme would soon become a narrative for children, with “Butterfly Dreams” leading into the story. Her daughter suggested she paint a picture for every verse, which Davies did, but one stumped her and she didn’t know how to illustrate it.

Her daughter picked up a brush and the result is a mystic night scene with a brilliant moon casting light for a lone ship out at sea.

Creative talent runs in the family, it seems.

Butterfly Dreams was a year in the works but since its inception last February, hundreds of schoolchildren now know about Milo and his adventures. Davies has been visiting elementary schools to share Butterfly Dreams with kids even before it was published.

She wanted to gauge their reaction, half-expecting their attention to wane and for them to become fidgety. She was astounded with their spellbound response.

“I think I’ve had one wiggler!” she says.

Their enthusiasm motivated Davies to seek publication.

These days she has no trouble putting thoughts to paper.

“I started writing… and it hasn’t stopped,” she says.

Butterfly Dreams: Milo’s Adventure is available on Amazon.ca for $11.90 and a sequel is in the works.

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