Burned out by the Camp Fire, Paradise illustrator Steve Ferchaud fills his latest creation with Paradise memories in a children's book for all ages--and for the ages.
The book came about when the Executive Director of Youth On The Ridge Community Foundation, Debbie LaPlant Moseley, had the idea of raising funds by auctioning off names and characters to be put into a book. The winning bid came from the Hartleys, owners of Joy Lyn's Candies, and so their granddaughter, Haley, is the one who tells the story, a kind of diary of Paradise before, during, and after the fire.
"'My Name Is Haley And I Live In Paradise...'" ($14.99 in paperback, published by Youth On The Ridge Community Foundation; printed by Digital Print & Design in Chico) is available at ABC Books in Chico and through the website of the Foundation's Paradise Chocolate Fest (chocolatefest.us/getting-involved/my-name-is-haley). Proceeds go to the Foundation.
As writer and illustrator, Ferchaud tells a hopeful story. But it's hope that knows full well what has been lost.
"I have to tell you about Noble Orchards," Haley writes. "I think I have a special talent for picking apples because I have always picked the best, juiciest, sweetest apples in the whole orchard. ... I wonder what the going rate is for an apple expert?"
Haley and her friends Lucia Violet and Sam spend time at Joy Lyn's ("I always choose the brittle"). There's Gold Nugget Days (readers may know some of the folks in the crowd), the Chocolate Fest, Gold Nugget Museum, Darlene's Ice Cream dreams, and Johnny Appleseed Days.
Then one morning the phone rings. Haley and her mom must evacuate, try to make it to Chico to meet her dad. Booming sounds are all around. For five pages Ferchaud's palette turns red.
"Then suddenly, there was blue sky."
Days pass, and the Skyway reopens. The two-page spread of a devastated Paradise, "empty and burned away," is heart-rending.
Months pass, and the family rebuilds. "There is still so much I want to say ... but do you know what I love saying the most...? 'Hi! My Name is Haley, and I live in Paradise.'"