What started as a fun classroom assignment for teacher Kat Wendling to inspire animation students turned into a published children’s book, “Bilby Bakes a Pie.”
As part of a lesson, Wendling, R. L. Turner High School’s gaming and animation teacher, had students practice drawing a picture of a random animal. Wendling drew one too. Wendling’s drawing caught the eye of a student who suggested making a children’s book out of it.
“It is a funny story,” Wendling said. “I was talking with my class about character design, and I pulled up a website of ‘random animals you have never heard of’ for my students to use as inspiration for their characters. On this website, there was a Bilby. My students and I practiced drawing this animal as a character for the class. Then later that day, I had a student in another class notice my drawing of the Bilby on my desk. They fell in love with it and told me I should make a children's book out of it. And, so I did.”
This is the first book written and illustrated by Wendling.
“The story of the book came from a doodle of Bilby I drew where he is holding a pie,” Wendling said. “ ‘Bilby Bakes a Pie’ is a children's book about a Bilby making a pie for his friends. There is a recipe at the end of the book so kids can follow along with the book and make their own pie. I wrote the book then illustrated it in sections. First, I drew out all the illustrations on paper to get an idea of what I wanted. From there, I did the final Illustrations on the computer using Photoshop.”
Wendling has taught in CFBISD for four years, with this school year being the fifth, and is also the Director of R. L. Turner’s Academy for Media Arts & Technology (AMAT). Wendling went to college at Utah Valley University and earned a degree in Digital Media with an emphasis in Gaming and Animation.
“Bilby Bakes a Pie” can be found in several online stores including Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Wendling says to stay tuned for more books in the future.
“I am excited to have this book out there and am looking forward to creating more,” Wendling said. “I am wanting to turn Bilby into a series that children can enjoy for years to come. I never expected a simple assignment with my students to turn into a book series.”