Kwaku Amoateng is quite the creative father.
In 2021, the Comox military firefighter wrote and illustrated a fictional children’s book (The Magic Umbrella – Bratasaurus and Tyrannosaurus) to honour his son, Jordan. The book features characters who represent a father’s relationship with his autistic son – similar to Kwaku and Jordan.
The book not only helped strengthen the bond between Kwaku and Jordan, but also helped Jordan with his confidence.
“He absolutely loved it,” said Kwaku. “I guess now he feels like he has an (alter ego), and he always uses references from the book. And it also brought attention to him in his school, so now kids are more curious about him. He feels more comfortable, and his (schoolmates) are also more understanding. He is very happy where he is now.”
Amoateng is at it again. He has just published the second of The Magic Umbrella series – Change of Plans – taking his creative side to a whole new level.
This time, his audience has helped him with the art.
It started with Jordan, who drew a peacock and asked if that could go into the book. From there, Jordan’s friend, Nora, did the same, drawing a flower.
“From there it just spread; every kid wanted to be a part of it,” said Amoateng. “So in this book, there are all kinds of characters just randomly placed on the pages, that are the creations of kids. Each picture has their name attached to it. Then they open the book and have to find their drawings.
“I just want every child to know that they can draw. Once Asher saw his dinosaur, he has been drawing every day since.”
The submissions weren’t limited to Jordan and his friends. Some of the drawings used for this book come from complete strangers.
“Whenever I am out at a cafe or a library or something, kids see me drawing and they are very curious,” said Amoateng. “I always encourage them and their parents to sit at the table, and explain if they can draw me a picture, I will colour it in, and put it in the book. It makes them very happy.
“I love seeing their reaction when they see their drawings come to life.”
Amoateng does everything he can to keep the drawing as close to the original as possible.
“I try to stay true to the outline, the design. Then I just fill it in with colour.”
Amoateng even made some exceptions, to accommodate the shy ones. A couple of his fans, Jax and Kiara, had no drawings to give him, “but had asked me to put them in as cartoon characters.” Amoateng gladly obliged.
For those who did not supply Amoateng with art for this latest project, fear not. He already has his third book in the works, and is encouraging any children who want to see their art transformed to send him their drawings.
“I am planning on doing a type of ‘Where’s Waldo’ book, based on these kids’ drawings,” said Amoateng. “Sort of like, ‘look in this forest and find these two drawings.’”
Amoateng welcomes submissions from any children who want to see their drawings come to life.