Two years ago, Jennifer Hanf, now a senior at The University of Findlay, spent a lot of time with Gilbert, an insecure bird with bookworm tendencies. Also keeping her company were an owl named Mr. Wiseman, a doe named Miss Darla, and others who encouraged Gilbert to believe that his differences were part of his charm.
The characters, all illustrated by Hanf, are featured in “Gilbert’s Journey,” a children’s book written by Findlay resident Michael Terrian.
Self published in 2014, the 13-page story was inspired by Terrian’s childhood experiences with bullying. The book is aiding his quest to educate people about the harm that bullying causes, and how best to respond to it.
Hanf, a talented artist who is majoring in children’s book illustration at the University, was an obvious choice. She worked closely with Terrian to develop the characters as the author envisioned. Using a computer illustration program, she spent time perfecting expressions, portraying action and fine-tuning perspectives.
Hanf said Terrian described each character’s personality and worked with her to make minor design changes along the way. What resulted is a richly illustrated book filled with relatable situations and characters. Gilbert doesn’t fit in with his classmates and is picked on, but with the help of his older and wiser friends, discovers that his differences are actually assets.
“She is very talented and did an amazing job,” said Terrian. “I really liked the way Jenny thought outside the box to create these characters. She added little things to each character to give them their own personalities.”
“Gilbert’s Journey” is sold at DorAnne’s Gifts & Gourmet and at Christian Book & Gift Store in Findlay. Terrian also sells them when he has speaking engagements at various locations.
The book illustration work suited and inspired Hanf. As an only child, she said she has entertained herself over the years by drawing. Near the end of her high school career, she wasn’t sure what type of schooling and career she wanted to pursue. After sitting in on a few UF art classes and researching the children’s book art illustration major, she was drawn, so to speak, to it.
Hanf hopes she can turn her artistic interests into a full-time career. This summer, she is gaining additional experience by working on an alphabet book for the Mazza Museum.