Signing event set for local children's book author
Local author and illustrator Megan McNellis will be at Jane Addams Book Store (208 N. Neil St.) at 2 p.m. today, signing copies of her fourth children's book, "Ibex Idiom", and giving away stickers featuring characters from her animal-themed collection.
Here are five things you should know about the Fithian-based author of "Kiwi Simile," "Ant Adaptation" and "Anteater Analogy."
1 The graphic artist, an Oakwood native, loved reading National Geographic and World Book Encyclopedia as a kid, especially stories about animals. She made her first illustrated books at the age of 5, using scraps of paper and tape. Her series of illustrated educational books aren't all that different, McNellis says, than the little books she made as a child. And the polar bear edition of National Geographic was, by far, her favorite as a kid.
2 McNellis' books, of which she has self-published four in a planned series of 15, focus on animals that are unique in appearance, have amazing abilities or adaptations or are endangered. She says all of her books outline the behavior and characteristics of these unique, extraordinary members of the animal kingdom with academic text and colorful illustrations. Either the text or illustration, sometimes simultaneously, contain metaphorical devices, including puns, to make facts more accessible and entertaining for young readers.
3 Ibex, the inspiration for her latest book, is the common name for various species of wild goat. McNellis says she has befriended multiple bovidae in her day, including a bull, a few sheep and a few domestic goats.
4 A 2003 Oakwood High grad, McNellis earned her associate degree from Danville Area Community College and her bachelor's from Indiana State. She studied graphic design at Parkland College and, in between launching her book business, helped Champaign schools with its rebranding campaign last year. That included a spot on the district's website redesign committee.
5 Book No. 5 in McNellis' series — "Platypus Parallel" — is due out in July. Writing it will be a big job, she says, given that the little creature has characteristics comparable to ducks, snakes, beavers, otters, camels, hammerhead sharks, chipmunks and gorillas. After that, McNellis will tackle the kakapo, a giant, ground-dwelling, flightless, naturally curious parrot from New Zealand that's critically endangered.