By Julie Rogers '17
When Isaac Lewis '18 walks into the Brewer Bookstore, he gets to see something most students do not: his own book on the shelves.
Isaac’s parents stayed in a local Bed and Breakfast during Family Weekend, when they were visiting from their hometown of Windsor, Ontario. The owners, a couple who has since left the area, own an extensive collection of local artist Hazel Tyrrell’s carvings. The couple told Isaac about the birds and the artist, and a story idea was born. “They continued to invite me over to tell me about these birds, and I started thinking, maybe I could write a book about them,” Isaac says.
Isaac ultimately published a children’s book featuring Tyrrell's carvings. Each page of the book, Sparrow in My Hand and Heart, features a photo of one of Tyrrell’s famous wooden birds. The project is Isaac’s first experience with North Country art, and he hopes the story helps preserve the memory of the Pierrepont artist. “There were a lot of older people in the area who know about Tyrrell, but then the younger generation didn’t really know about her work,” Isaac says.
The book began as a final assignment for his First-Year Program, “Children’s Literature and its Lifelong Lessons”, taught by Karen Gibson. The students were tasked with writing a children’s story that took place somewhere in Canton.
“I wanted them to really think about place and how important setting is for children’s stories,” Gibson says. “But I was also trying to get them to go out into the community and meet people.”
Gibson loved the story when Isaac turned it in, and helped him get it published through the University. “Isaac just did such an amazing job,” Gibson says. “He had the same assignment as everyone else, and he just took it to the next level. I’m very proud of him.”
The book is for sale in the Brewer Bookstore, and 100 percent of the proceeds will go to St. Lawrence’s Campus Kitchens Project, which serves meals once a week to those experiencing food insecurity. “Everything is going back to the community,” Isaac says. “That’s where it should go, as a local book project.”