WHO IS BOO?

Who Is Boo: The Terrific Tales of One Trickster Rabbit is a 66-page illustrated children’s book written by Bridget Ryan and illustrated by Jason Carter that chronicles a perpetually curious rabbit who is in a continual race around the world with his and along the way, meets many animals. The title character is inspired by Nanabozho, a trickster figure in Ojibwe mythology, but the story itself is inspired from the trickster characters prevalent in all ethnicities. The first of a series of adventure stories about this fleet-footed rabbit, ‘Boo’ is about curiosity that leads to wonderment that leads to helpfulness! In a world that runs the risk of become more disconnected (even though there is an abundance of social networking), it’s about stopping, connecting, and helping those we meet on our way. The show ( and the launch of the book) opened April 2011 at the Royal Alberta Museum. For three months, the 21 30′ x 40′ paintings from the book were on display at the RAM, before heading to Canmore’s Carter-Ryan Gallery, and most recently at the Art Gallery of Calgary for the summer of 2013. The exhibit not only illustrates the book, but the beginnings of the ‘boo’ story, art and collaboration.

Local children’s book becomes museum exhibition

By Brian Swane, Examiner Staff

Updated 29 days ago

The story of Who Is Boo? The Terrific Tales of one Trickster Rabbit is probably as good as the actual tale told within the pages of the children’s book.

Heck, it might even better. At the end of 2010, Who is Boo? existed only in the recesses of illustrator Jason Carter and author Bridget Ryan’s brains. Four months later, it’s a 60-page book and exhibition at the Royal Alberta Museum (RAM) featuring 21 of the pages brought to life on canvas.

How in the world does this happen? “I’m blown away. It’s completely awesome to me,” says Ryan. The self-published Who is Boo? chronicles a perpetually curious rabbit who races around the world meeting and helping other animals. Nanabozho, a trickster figure in Ojibwe mythology, inspires the title character.

“The story itself based on trickster characters, which are prevalent in all ethnicities,” says Carter, an Edmonton native who is a member of Little Red River Cree Nation. Who is Boo? has been – to use a film industry term – “in development” for quite some time.

Carter, a renowned visual artist whose work was displayed at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, and Ryan, an actor, singer, playwright and director, work together at City TV Edmonton, where the former is a cameraman and the latter a personality.

In 2008, Carter created animal carvings for an art show, while Ryan wrote descriptions to accompany the pieces, explaining how the bisons, bears, and other carved creatures interacted with a trickster character that would become Boo. “Everybody (who) went to the show was, like, ‘This has to be a kids book,’ ” says Ryan. The duo continued to expand the animals’ stories, fleshing out their characters, and batted around the book idea for a couple years.

Then 2010 turned to 2011. “On New Year’s Day, I woke up at like p.m. and thought, ‘This is it, I’m going to start the year off right and throw all the stories together,’ ” recalls Ryan. Within hours, she had the page-by-page outline of Who is Boo? “I think Bridget had an epiphany,” says Carter. “She came over to my house in the afternoon and was like, ‘Here you go.’ ” Carter began working tirelessly to illustrate the book. He also created the paintings displayed in the exhibition, which also includes three of his animal carvings.

Earlier this month, the book was released and the exhibition opened. Carter and Ryan marked the occasion by reading to a group of children at the RAM. “There are a lot of people who say, his (work) is based on a First Nations folktale, I’m totally an Irish-Canadian humorist, and the two of us – he’s helping me tell my story, I’m helping him tell his story,” says Ryan. “I really want kids to see – whether they look alike or talk differently – it doesn’t mater. “Everybody can help each other tell stories and each has an ability that will empower the other, and that’s the really beautiful message we wanted to get across to kids.”

It’s a message that will only spread further as Boo continues his adventures. “I’ve always wanted to write a kids’ book, and I think if you were to ask Jason Carter five years ago, ‘Hey, can you write a kids book?’ He’d be like, ‘Uh, I can’t see that in my future,’ ” says Ryan. “Now it’s just like, ‘Well, of course, we’re going to write 10 more.” The Who is Boo? exhibition shows at the RAM through July 3.

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