When École Quarterway Elementary School students return from winter break and walk to school again, they’ll spot new colourful designs that are like “a storybook come to life” along Bowen Road.
As part of the city’s beautifying efforts to combat vandalism, the playful artwork of children’s book writer and illustrator Amy Pye was installed on three utility boxes along the road close to the school in mid-December.
“I was really excited about it because they wanted it to be children’s theme, which is right up my alley,” Pye said. “They were very open to anything and I wanted to create an adventure scene … like a storybook come to life. And I wanted to make it inclusive with multiple ethnicities. And basically kids just having fun with lots of little details so that there is something new that you can see every time you look at it.”
For the artist’s design, which depicts school-age children playing together and exploring the outdoors, Pye said she kept the style similar to that of her published books, Bruce the Silly Goose and G is for Grizzly Bear. In the month working on it, however, she did change the initial concept from a literal storybook opening up with characters coming out, as she felt that was “too on the nose.”
While the utility box illustrations are her first contribution as part of the city’s urban design roster, Pye’s work also adorned city streets from 2019-20 when she won that year’s street banner design competition.
On the horizon, the writer will have a new book coming out in spring called Some Monsters which celebrates differences.