By Janet Goetze
For the Hollywood Star News
A Northeast Portland couple — a writer and an illustrator — have produced an ABC book inspired by hiking, camping and travels in western North America.
Letters of the West, by writer Michelle Walch and illustrator John Maddin, is published by Portland-based Craigmore Creations as part of the Little Naturalist Fall 2014 series. The hardcover book, with 32 pages and full color, is aimed at children age 4 or older. It sells for $17.99.
Walch and Maddin said they came up with the idea for an ABC book while reading to their daughter. Walch, who has written, read and recorded poetry, said she also thought they could create a book for the Craigmore series after noticing her husband’s gift for illustrating the natural world.
The pair researched each subject in the book and collaborated on the text and art direction.
Maddin, who came to Portland from Eastern Washington to attend Pacific Northwest College of Art, is known for the rich texture in his scratchboard work. In this medium, sharp tools etch into a thin layer of clay revealing India ink or additional colored clay or foil. Scratchboard can produce highly detailed artwork.
The illustrations include Latin scientific names for most subjects. This gives the book the look of a vintage school text or naturalist John Muir’s field journal.