By Nina Silberstein
Gerry is a seagull and the main character in Seasons Kaz Sparks’ new children’s book, Flock of Gerrys – Gerry Loves Tacos. The story is the first in a series of books for young readers.
The seagull experiences a taco for the first time from his friend Octo’s food truck and loves them so much he wants to sing a song for the whole town.
He convinces his friends, who have never eaten a taco to try one and then form a band together and put on a show.
Band members include DJ LlamaRama, Tuskadero Slim, Crabarita, Mr. Big on Bass, Salty Raven and of course, Octo, the taco truck owner.
In real life, Gerry is a clever and charming seagull who visits Sparks’ home in Tillamook daily. The two have become so close that Gerry eats his snacks right out of her hand.
“I was inspired to draw our ‘pet’ seagull and had fun imagining his life, flying around Tillamook visiting various friends,” she said.
After drawing the characters, Sparks had the groundwork to start writing and illustrating the story, which took her about a year and a half to complete.
“It’s just the beginning of their adventures and more animal friends are sure to follow.”
The book is suitable for all ages, and written in a rhyming format. It includes a song and the message that you can do anything when you work together and “it showcases the power of music, helping one another and trying new things,” she added.
Sparks and her husband moved from Portland to Tillamook three years ago. She runs the gift shop, Presents of Mind, at SE 36th and Hawthorne.
There’s a successful line of cards, t-shirts and accessories built around the Flock of Gerrys characters through Sparks’ company, Salty Raven (saltyraven.net).
When she started drawing Flock of Gerrys in 2017, it was based on the joy her seagull friend gave her.
“I wanted the images to give people that same joy whenever they looked at them,” Sparks explained. “Wearing something that makes people smile can change your whole day.”
Her hope is to inspire kids to make up their own stories and songs, and turn Flock of Gerrys into an international brand through the introduction of the characters and their stories in her books. She’d also like to create a video of kids singing the songs from her books in the future.
A successful Kickstarter campaign raised double her fundraising goal and is helping Sparks reach readers beyond her social circle and get the book in front of a broader audience.
It will be formally released this month as both a board book and hardback version and is currently available at flockofgerrys.com.
Other locations will carry the book after it has been released and display copies can be viewed at Presents of Mind.
Look for Sparks’ booth at Hawthorne Street Fair where she’ll be hosting a book signing.
By Nina Silberstein