Darren Cranford has illustrated dozens of books for other authors but, until now, he has never written one of his own.
At the end of October, however, he celebrated his literary debut with his first-ever children’s book, “Nottle’s First Day of School,” of which he is both the author and illustrator.
Cranford, who also works as an animator and is the co-owner of Keyframe Digital Productions and Krow VFX, said this story idea was “brewing in my head” for five years.
“I thought, ‘You know what, I can do this,'” he told The Lake Report. He spent the last three years putting it all together.
“Nottle’s First Day of School” focuses on the message of “it’s what’s inside that counts,” telling the story of a lunchbag who doesn’t look like much from the outside but has much to offer.
“The book is about a little paper bag and he goes to a new school, he meets up with the other lunchboxes who are all beautiful commercial lunchboxes and he’s just a little bag,” Cranford said.
The book features a special title character named after the town’s popular acronym, NOTL.
“It’s a little homage to my hometown of NOTL and I put a little twist on it with the spelling N-O-T-T-L-E,” he said.
Cranford has worked as an illustrator for other children’s books and has animated hundreds of hours of content in his work as an animation director, being nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for directing in animation.
For his debut children’s book, he gave each of the lunchbox characters personalities to explore in further books and projects.
“I’ve already been talking with a producer who saw the book and is thinking of making it into an animation project,” he said, “which is great, because my company can now animate it as well.”
To celebrate the launch of “Nottle’s First Day at School,” Cranford is doing a book signing in Niagara Falls on Friday and one at a later date in Toronto.
“Hopefully I’ll be doing one at my kid’s school here at Crossroads, though I haven’t confirmed that yet,” he said.
Cranford’s first book is available for purchase online on Amazon.