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Q-and-A with the creators of Reggie’s first children’s book

Susan Blystone and Mike Mahle

Susan Blystone and Mike Mahle from Illinois State's University Marketing and Communications staff.

A new children’s book starring mascot Reggie Redbird will take Illinois State University’s youngest fans on a colorful journey to find out Where are all the Redbirds?

The University’s first children’s book was created by Illinois State illustrator Mike Mahle with writer Susan Blystone ’84, M.S. ’03. The book is being sold at various Bloomington-Normal retailers and online starting in September. A full list of retailers is available at IllinoisState.edu/ReggieBook.

Learn more about Where are all the Redbirds? in this Q&A with its creators:

Why did you want to create a Reggie book?

Blystone: This project had been contemplated for many months. The idea originated through brainstorming items that would appeal to the youngest Redbirds. There are many novelty items for infants that spread Illinois State pride, but less available to elementary school children. As the popularity of Reggie’s Kids Club continues to grow with increased membership, the idea of providing something unique to those who join mushroomed into the plan for a Reggie adventure told through a colorfully illustrated children’s book.

Reggie Redbird reads his new children's book

Reggie Redbird reads his new children’s book, “Where are all the Redbirds?”

What kind of adventure does Reggie go on?

Blystone: As the story begins, Reggie is perfectly content living in the woods with his friends: Wilma the worm, Betty the bluebird, Frankie the fish, and Simon the squirrel. Still, he wonders why he is the only Redbird. Do other Redbirds live somewhere else? Reggie’s adventure begins as he determines to answer that question. It ends when he finds all the other Redbirds at Illinois State University, which becomes his new home.

What’s your favorite part of the book?

Blystone: My favorite scene is Reggie’s dream. Beyond marking a turning point in the story, Mike’s illustration of Reggie’s tree house bedroom is adorable. He provides impressive detail as the moon shines in on Reggie’s stack of bird-themed books and his cute little bed with tree limbs as decorative pillars.

Mahle: I would have to say that my favorite part of the book is when we are introduced to all of Reggie’s friends. It was fun coming up with all of them.

What style of illustration did you use?

Mahle: The book was created entirely in digital vector art. Working digitally allows for a super clean line that I’ve really come to enjoy the results of. In addition it allows for the art to be easily pulled apart and reworked in various formats.

Who would enjoy this book?

Blystone: This book is designed to appeal to various audiences. Alumni and Redbird fans will appreciate having the chance to share with their youngest family members a story tied to Illinois State. The illustrations are delightful and engaging, so even the littlest ones will be engaged as the story is read aloud. It is also a great starter book for the child beginning to read alone. Members of Reggie’s Kids Club will especially find it fun, as it gives them an adventure story about their beloved mascot.

Ryan Denham can be reached at rmdenha@IllinoisState.edu.

 

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