Ookie! swoops in to Suffolk

Published 9:44 pm Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Emily Stoll, in foreground, and Jan Southard sign copies of “Ookie!” at Lake Prince Woods on Monday night. The women wrote and illustrated the book together after meeting during a carpool.

Two local women are enjoying brisk sales of a book they wrote and illustrated together about a different kind of bird that saves the lives of other baby birds.

“Ookie!” was written by Emily Stoll, who lives in Chesapeake, and illustrated by Jan Southard, a Suffolk resident. But the idea came from a painting Southard had done of the brightly-colored bird with a heart of gold.

The pair held a talk and book signing at Lake Prince Woods retirement community on Monday evening, where they sold quite a few books for the grandchildren of the 30 attendees.

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The two met through the Philanthropic Educational Organization, which supports women’s education through grants and scholarships. They were carpooling with others to an event when Southard mentioned she had created the Ookie character in a painting and wanted to develop a story around it.

“I said, ‘I’ll help,’” Stoll said.

The two then set out writing and revising the story. It was re-written about 12 times, Stoll said.

“But every time, it got better, and we’re very happy with it,” she said.

The Ookie bird is an unusual type of bird that wants to help the other birds, but they believe Ookie means harm to their young, so they constantly chase Ookie away. However, one day, they witness him helping their fledglings while they are out gathering food, so they realize Ookie can be the nanny of the magical forest.

Southard said she created the illustrations in the book as pastel paintings, which were then photographed. She did them in random order to avoid changes in the character from the beginning to the end.

The women also plan to give a portion of their profits to P.E.O., the organization where they met. They also are donating some profits to the Lake Prince Woods Benevolence Fund.

The books can be ordered on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble online (www.bn.com). In addition, they can be ordered through the women’s website, www.magicalforestbooks.com.