BURRILLVILLE – A longtime photographer has made the leap to writer and illustrator with the debut of her first children’s book this month, and now plans to use her talents to give back to the community.
Carissa Leveille Nylin’s first book, A to Z for D-O-G, teaches and practices the alphabet, and helps early readers practice rhythmic reading.
“It is a bedtime story for tiny humans and the dogs that love them so dearly,” notes a release on the publication.
Geared for children ages 3 to 6, the self-published book features illustrations that leave the reader with a warm, dreamy feeling. In each, a dog accompanies his humans on both adventures and quiet moments, from boat rides and kite-flying, to snuggling and bedtime.
One dollar from each copy sold will be donated to Vintage Pet Rescue, a Foster-based retirement and hospice home for senior dogs.
“They do such an amazing job over there,” Leveille Nylin said. “Most of their dogs are over 15 years old.”
But that’s just the start of new author’s plans.
In conjunction with the book release, Leveille Nylin has opened Tiny House Creative Studio, with a website to feature her work including books and art pieces.
“It’s a creative space for me to be able to share my projects,” Leveille Nylin explained.
She already has her next books in mind, with an accompanying plan to donate a portion from the sales to wildlife conservation and education.
It’s a change in direction for the Mapleville resident, who has worked as a photographer for the past 11 years.
“It was a creative leap from my photography background that I enjoyed doing,” said Leveille Nylin. “I know that children like images that use real photographs, so the illustrations are all photographs I took and composited and turned to graphic watercolors, then painted digitally with different brushes, and added some hand drawn elements too.”
“The vivid illustrations use a combination of photography, graphic watercolors and hand-drawn elements,” notes the book release.
Raised in Narragansett, Leveille Nylin, who lives in Burrillville with her husband, daughter and step-kids – and their 14-year-old dog Peter – said the project brings to fruition a long-planned goal.
“I have always had, in the back of my head, writing books at some point in my life,” she said.
The idea for A to Z for D-O-G came to the author while she was hiking in Bershires with her husband and Pete – whose advanced age meant that he had to be practically carried to the top.
But with time-consuming wedding photography as her primary source of income, Leveille Nylin’s project would have to wait.
“It was kind of on the back-burner for awhile,” she said.
That was, at least, until COVID-19 hit the region last spring, putting a hold on weddings and other such occasions.
“It’s been a blessing in disguise,” she said of the virus. “What it has given me is time.”
Leveille Nylan says she finally had a moment to play with her images in the way she had envisioned.
“This is a good transition from my photography,” she explained. “My love of art really comes from the photography and what I can do with it.”
Her talent just might run in the family: Leveille Nylin’s 7-year-old daughter Ella Grace drew and colored the ice cream cone that is on the side of the truck on the new book’s cover.
The author notes that her follow-up books are already in the works and will feature similar illustrations – including one on idioms.
“The illustrations for that one are super, super fun,” she said.
Leveille Nylin is selling the books out of her home, and notes the name Tiny House Creative Studio comes from her dream of owning a tiny house bookstore/art gallery one day in her favorite spot in the Berkshires. For now, she says she visits tiny houses as often as she can to work on new ideas and rest. In addition to her work, she intends to share some of her favorite tiny houses on her web pages.
A to Z for D-O-G goes on pre-sale on the Tiny House Creative Studio website starting on Sunday, Jan. 24. The book costs $15 and pre-sale orders will be shipped free of charge.
But the book officially launches on Valentine’s Day, when Leveille Nylin will host a virtual event via Facebook Live featuring dog-themed giveaways. Followers can view the event on Sunday, Feb. 14 from 2 to 2:45 p.m. on the studio’s Facebook page.
The author’s goal is to donate a $500 check to Vintage by this time next year, and she’s hopeful her book will be a hit in a community well-known for its generosity – as she saw during her work with the AT Levy Elementary School PTA.
“The moment we came out here, we loved it,” Leveille Nylin said of Burrillville. “The neighborhood, the town, the community, has been really amazing.”
She’s encouraging those who don’t buy the book to donate directly to the pet rescue via its website – which is all a part of her mission to give back.
“I feel like I’ve been blessed to be part of this community where everyone will jump in to help out,” she said.
Visit the Tiny House Creative Studio website on or after Jan. 24 to purchase A to Z for D-O-G, and follow the new business on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tinyhousecreativestudio.