A local author has published a book of children's poems, just in time for Christmas.
Fred Karpala's Shabalaba Zoo Diaries is a whimsical collection of poems that highlight the imaginative world in which children live.
Karpala said he started writing the poems as an uncle to his young niece, Jennifer, back in 1970, when he was 20 years old.
"I put a little book together for her 7th birthday," said Karpala. When his own children, Brian, Jeffrey and Kelly, came along, he continued the tradition, writing down poems as ideas came along.
"There's quite a history of these poems," said Karpala. "I've probably lost more than I've kept.
"We didn't have computers, so I would write them on scraps of paper, some of which would get lost."
Some have survived, however, and many have made their way into this collection.
Karpala worked with Sanela Dizdar, a Kitchener graphics designer, for the illustrations for his book.
Dizdar has created stunningly colourful, cartoon-like pictures for each of the poems, capturing the imaginary world that Karpala has created.
Together, they came up with the idea of having each of the characters in the poem be a different animal – something that easily made sense, given how many of them were based on animals, such as the opening poem, Jeffrey's Giraffe.
It was Dizdar's sons, Neo and Len, who game up with the nonsensical name for the book, the Shabalaba Zoo Diaries, a place where anything can happen.
For Karpala, seeing the book come together has been very rewarding, so much so, that Karpala and Dizdar are already working on their next book.
And while all of the poems are special to Karpala, he admits that there are some that are more special than others.
"I think some of the ones for my children are my favourite," said Karpala.
He's hopeful that others will enjoy the book as well.
"My feeling is that it will probably appeal to the children in everybody," said Karpala.
Shabalaba Zoo Diaries is available at Uptown Gallery Waterloo, as well as by contacting Karpala at firstname.lastname@example.org.