Peter­bor­ough artist helps bring McCart­ney’s ‘Hey Gran­dude’ to life

The Peterborough Examiner - - OPINION - Rose­mary Gan­ley Reach writer, ac­tivist and teacher Rose­mary Gan­ley at rgan­[email protected]

Nine months af­ter sub­mit­ting four sketches to her agent in the U.K. in re­gard to a new chil­dren’s book be­ing pre­pared, artist Kathryn Durst of Peter­bor­ough and Toronto re­ceived ex­cit­ing news.

Paul McCart­ney, the Sir Paul McCart­ney, one of the creative ge­niuses of the Bea­tles, now in his 77th year, had com­posed a story for kids, and af­ter look­ing at her work, had in­vited Kathryn to il­lus­trate it.

He has eight grand­chil­dren whom he refers to as “chillers,” and they call him “Gran­dude.”

His book was to be called “Hey Gran­dude!” It’s a fan­tasy about four chil­dren, bored at home on a rainy day, who are saved by their grand­fa­ther, who presents post­cards il­lus­trat­ing far­away ad­ven­tures. The cards, along with a com­pass, have the mag­i­cal power to whisk the kids away to these places and im­merse them in dan­ger­ous happenings.

In the South Seas, fun on the beach is in­ter­rupted by swarms of at­tack­ing crabs. In the Wild West, cow­boys and cacti pro­vide de­light un­til a herd of ram­pag­ing buf­falo dis­turbs the peace. Af­ter es­cap­ing the stam­pede, the chillers and their gran­dude make it to the Swiss Alps, where singing and strum­ming amid the wild­flow­ers charm them un­til a roar­ing avalanche comes surg­ing down the moun­tain. Safe and sleepy, the four­some and their guardian wel­come home again. To dream.

McCart­ney’s book has made it to the top of the best­seller list for chil­dren’s books in the New York Times. And Kathryn Durst hopes its suc­cess and her part in it will al­low her to con­tinue her work il­lus­trat­ing chil­dren’s books and to make her home in Peter­bor­ough.

She has four nieces and neph­ews nearby to whom she ded­i­cates her work.

Durst grew up here and went to St Peter’s, where she says she was en­cour­aged by teach­ers Mary Claire Ne­potiuk and Greg Burke. Then she went on to Sheri­dan Col­lege in Oakville for its an­i­ma­tion course.

Her dream has al­ways been to il­lus­trate chil­dren’s books. The Dursts were al­ways an artis­tic fam­ily. Grand­mother Durst, Kathryn’s pa­ter­nal grand­mother, en­tered the On­tario Col­lege of Art and De­sign at age 50.

Daugh­ter of Dan Durst, a well-loved teacher at St Peter’s and Holy Cross, who him­self taught pho­tog­ra­phy and tech­ni­cal sub­jects, and of Loretta Durst, who works at Trent in stu­dent aid, Kathryn tells me over cof­fee at Dreams of Beans that her de­ci­sion to en­gage a Bri­tish agent was a good one. The largest chil­dren’s book con­fer­ence in the world is ac­tu­ally in Bologna, Italy, she says. “That is a fan­tas­tic gath­er­ing.”

I have known Dan and Loretta Durst from their long­time vol­un­teer work with the lo­cal char­ity Friends of Hon­duran Chil­dren. Kathryn spent time with them in Hon­duras.

She was amused when Paul McCart­ney asked her to make the Gran­dude some­what slim­mer in her de­signs, and to make him “a lit­tle ec­cen­tric.” Hence, gran­dude has a white pony­tail.

A large and colour­ful book, “Hey, Gran­dude!” shines with en­ergy and a sense of fun. Kathryn, who plays ac­cor­dion, man­ages to slip one into a scene.

She can’t es­ti­mate how many hours of work are rep­re­sented here, but McCart­ney in­vited her to Lon­don re­cently to take part with him in the book launch and to sign au­to­graphs along with him. She is do­ing some talks and en­cour­ag­ing Sheri­dan stu­dents par­tic­u­larly. An­other Peter­bor­ough young per­son suc­ceeds.

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