A local musician-turned-author is hoping to one day join the ranks of beloved children’s authors such as Robert Munsch and Dr. Suess.
Barrie resident Ryan Woolhead, 31, grew up loving the crazy and fun — and often rhyming — stories that came from two of his favourite authors, telling BarrieToday it's been a long-standing dream of his to become an author.
The father of two says his own kids — ages three and nine — are also big fans, which is one of the main reasons he decided to pursue his dream of creating his own children’s book.
“That’s kind of why I got into it. It’s become a family kind of activity,” says Woolhead, a longtime musician and songwriter who goes by the alias 'Myndset'. “That was kind of an easy transition for me, to go from rhyming in my hip hop to rhyming kids books.”
The book, titled Luna The Lemur: Lost In LA, was officially released Dec. 5 on Amazon, which Woolhead described as being “fun for kids of all ages complete with lots of rhyming” and accompanied by watercolour illustrations created by Ukrainian artist Uliana Barabash.
“That’s a great plus for me. I have a great audience to practise the books on before I release them. I’ve just always liked stories, and fantasy, and grew up loving Dr. Seuss and those kinds of books," he says.
Woolhead, who grew up in Innisfil, first started researching how to make the transition from songwriter to author about two years ago, after reading an article on the topic.
“That just kind of stuck with me over the years. I (decided) I was going to try it one day,” he says. “It was very challenging by the end. At the start, I thought I was doing good, and then the more I read them … you know that K.I.S.S rule (keep it simple stupid), so I started rewriting and rewriting, and then I got my son to read it or see if he could read it without help.
"That was the biggest challenge — not the writing or the rhyming part, (but) making it simple so kids could read it.”
The book has already garnered some pretty exciting reviews, including a few comparisons to his childhood favourites, which Woolhead admitted has been “just crazy” to see.
“That’s what I was going for, so I am feeling the love for sure. I have received lots of messages from people that I have never spoken to before saying they love it. It’s pretty surreal,” he says. “Those are definitely the two influences I took from. If you look at the book, it’s all watercolour illustrations, which I wanted to get because I love Robert Munsch books and I love reading them to my kids. Dr. Seuss was the GOAT (greatest of all time) and I love rhyming books.
"Writing-wise, growing up with Dr. Seuss — and (with my) hip hop — it was just a very easy transition for me. Picture-wise, I remember being read (Munsch) books all the time by teachers and they were just awesome."
Woolhead describes the book as an “adventure-rhyming” book about Luna, a lemur who is going to a zoo with her friends Ollie the Owl and Craig Kangaroo.
“On the way there, she wakes up and her friends are nowhere to be found. She hopes off the boat and goes on an adventure throughout L.A. in search of her lost friends,” he says. “There’s a little twist ending that I am not going to give away, but you learn a nice lesson about friendship and what friends mean to you by sticking by them.”
Woolhead says he and his son are already working on a follow-up to the story, which he’s based loosely on the lemur that was kidnapped from the Elmvale Jungle Zoo in 2018.
“He’s helped me with that one, and we are brainstorming a book where he can maybe do the illustrations for me, because we thought that would be really cool.”