BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — As a young boy, Merrill Rainey loved creating things.
Now, as an illustrator, Rainey channels that boyhood creativity into his children’s books.
His latest book – titled Color-Cut-Create! – encourages kids to use their imaginations while designing paper toys and play sets.
“It all takes me back to what I used to do when I was a kid and what I don’t see many kids doing now,” he said.
The book includes kits and templates to build characters, play sets and props.
“So the whole idea is that once they have them built, they use their imagination to build their own story or world,” he said.
Rainey’s work has appeared in children’s magazines including Highlights, Ladybug, Learning A-Z, McGraw-Hill Education, Scholastic and Razorbill. He has also illustrated several children’s books, including ABC’s of Public Art, produced by the Arts Council of Greater Toledo; Awesome Christian Association No. 1 by Tony Bellagamba; Frog. Frog? Frog! by Nancy Loewen; Red Beard; and the chapter book series Blobby Blobson.
His latest book may be purchased online, and he will appear this weekend at Gathering Volumes, an independent bookstore in Perrysburg, where he will teach kids how to create their own paper characters and sign copies of his book.
Storeowner Denise Phillips said that children will enjoy the experience.
“Merrill is fantastic with kids,” she said. “He does a really great job keeping kids engaged and making them feel special.”
The book is unique, said Phillips, because it allows children to do more then simply read things on a page.
“Since every kid is different, this keeps them involved in a variety of ways, which is nice for parents who are trying to get their kids interested in books and reading,” she said.
Rainey has also made appearances at local schools, the Claire’s Day children’s book festival in Maumee and at bookstores in Ann Arbor.
“Doing this is always what I want to do,” he said. “The biggest challenge is realizing that it is a business – finding work, promoting it and more. It’s a lot of hard work.”
Rainey will appear at Gathering Volumes bookstore, located at 196 E. South Boundary St. in Perrysburg, on Sunday, November 18 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
Children can enjoy a paper toy build party based on Rainey’s new paper toy activity book, Color-Cut-Create!
The book is currently on sale at www.Itsy.com.