BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Children’s book illustrator Merrill Rainey loves to inspire children to be creative.
In his new books, Color, Cut, Create! Horses and Color, Cut, Create! Dinosaurs, Rainey developed over 70 paper toys, props and playsets specifically designed to let children’s imaginations take off.
The dinosaur book allows children ages 6 and up to color T-rexes, raptors, brontos, volcanoes and hidden waterfalls; and the horse ranch book includes paper toy Clydesdales, American paints, mustangs, stables, wagons, jumps and more. With both books, children cut out and construct the images into paper toys to easily create imaginative stories.
“The world itself would fit on a 5-by-5-foot square, so when it’s all built, you can link them together,” said Rainey.
The horse ranch has ponds, grass and flowers and the dinosaur set has lava sections, sand and stone, so it just depends on how you want to build your landscape, he added.
“Hopefully, it will entice kids to want to build more stuff on their own to add to the world they create,” he said. “The concept is to get kids creating – everything is here for kids to work with, and who says that dinosaurs weren’t bright pink or blue? It’s up to the kids and their creativity, to put their world together.”
The instructions are not overcomplicated, allowing kids to use ingenuity to create the pieces without becoming frustrated that they can’t do it.
“Once you learn how to make one dinosaur, you can make all of the dinosaurs and same with the horses,” he said.
The books will be featured this weekend with a special virtual launch event hosted by Gathering Volumes, a bookstore in Perrysburg. With the virtual Zoom launch, anyone registering will be eligible to receive a signed copy of the new books.
Rainey has been creating imaginative children’s illustrations for the past several years. These books, which are published under Odd Dot publishing, are based on his self-published book Superhero Color, Cut, Create! that came out in 2018.
Rainey’s illustrations can also be found in several children’s magazines including Humpty Dumpty, High-lights, Jack and Jill and more.
The inspiration for his stories comes from his children and his years growing up with an active imagination ,watching monster movies and drawing superheroes.
“These books are inspired from what we used to do as kids to get us excited to build things, like using a box as a base for G.I. Joe adventures,” he said. “Those are the cool, fun memories I had as a kid so this is like trying to pull all of those things and bring it to the kids now.”
The virtual book launch hosted by Gathering Volumes will take place on Tuesday, September 15 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Those registering will receive a link to the Zoom meeting and a pdf document of a paper activity toy to construct during the meeting.
The event is free, but registration is required: https://bit.ly/2GIdFLe.