There’s an artist in Paris in 1860. He carries his work around in a book. He asks children to tell him stories based on the illustrations.
“10 to 15 years ago I got an idea while speaking in the Pico School District in Los Angeles,” Author Gary Bernard said. “I asked the kids at the school to come up with their own stories based on illustrations.”
Bernard was blown away.
“They interject so much from their life into the stories. Everywhere I went was different,” Bernard said.
Bernard talked to over 1000 kids in two countries and seven cities.
“It was amazing how different the story was whether I was in Pico or an affluent part of France,” Bernard said. “But they were also very similar.”
Once the children tell the artist their stories, he writes them down in his book for safekeeping. The legend of the artist says that once the story is in the book, the children’s dreams come true.
Bernard is on his third children’s book titled “The Moth and The Sun.” It follows the story of a moth flying around Paris, and it is written and drawn to appear as though it was created by a Parisian artist in 1860.
This book is more personal to Bernard. It’s the one he keeps coming back to.
“I’ve been working on this one off and on for 20 years,” Bernard said. “It’s one of the more personal projects I’ve worked on.”
That’s why Bernard turned to Kickstarter to get this book published instead of through the more traditional publishing channels.
To protect it.
The artist has always been drawn to the stories of children. Even now, there are illustrations waiting for their own stories—waiting to make more dreams come true.
“I’ve always been drawn to children’s stories,” Bernard said. “I’ve always enjoyed the magic of it.”
Bernard studied at the Rhode Island School of Design under the same man who authored children’s book mainstays like “The Polar Express,” “Jumanji” and “Zathura.”
“It’s why I majored in illustration,” Bernard said.
So far, Bernard has illustrated two books that have been published. His first one, “Pemba Sherpa,” won a Junior Library Guild Award.
“That took 10 years,” Bernard said. “I sent out 1500 mailers and probably that many phone calls, and it was 10 years before anyone bit.”
There are still illustrations in the artist’s book. Illustrations without stories. Dreams that still haven’t come true.
“I intentionally left the last few pages of the book blank,” Bernard said.
“I want it to be something that people can hand down to their children and grandchildren,” Bernard said. “Kids can use the illustrations to tell their own stories, and they can pass those stories down through their families.”
They can pass down their dreams.
Gary Bernard’s Kickstarter campaign can be accessed by clicking here. There are just 15 days left in the campaign.