Children’s book a long time in the making

Langdale writer Marilyn Browning has learned a couple of things in becoming a children’s book author. The first is to look through one’s old writing on occasion to see what still works. The second is, don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with a suitable stranger on SkyTrain. 

As a result, Keikieboe Publishing recently published Browning’s rhyming poem for children, Chins, and Elbows, and Knees, illustrated by Vancouver-based artist Ernesto Reyes. 

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“I actually wrote it in 1988,” Browning said in an interview. “It just kind of sat in my pile of unpublished things, and I’d get it out once in a while and see it was pretty good. Then I was on the SkyTrain one day [in December, 2018], sitting beside this woman and we were the only ones not looking down at our phones. 

“I noticed she had a children’s book in her bag, and I said, ‘Oh, that’s nice.’ And she said, ‘Yes, it’s about my granddaughter. I just published it.’ I said, ‘I have a children’s book.’ And she said, ‘I’ll publish it for you,’ just like that.” 

Browning said she thought it was too good to be true but got the woman’s contact information. Some months later Browning sent the brief manuscript to her and got an immediate, positive response. “She just jumped on it,” Browning recalled. 

Completion of the publishing project was delayed by the death in August 2019 of Browning’s husband, Derek, to whom the book is dedicated. By the time she pulled her life back together, she’d missed out on the busy pre-Christmas book market. “Then COVID happened,” she added. 

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Asked to describe the 19-page paperback book’s content, Browning said that, while it’s obviously about parts of the body, it plays with the less-considered ways that we can use those parts. “Instead of an elbow just being an elbow and part of your arm, it’s to poke your friends with sometimes. And chins are for leaning on.” 

She said she got the inspiration long ago after she stubbed her toe on the leg of a couch. “It struck me that I said, ‘ouch’ and ‘couch,’ and it rhymed. And I thought a rhyming poem about parts of the body could be really funny.” 

Given the number of body parts and Browning’s imagination, she is considering more books with a similar theme. “The ouch and the couch could be in the works,” she said with a laugh. 

Chins, and Elbows, and Knees is available at local book shops and online through Amazon.

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