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Write On Ottawa: Living the dream with Caveman Jack

By Alejandro Bustos on June 26, 2015

Imagine that one of your dreams came true.  What would you do a year or two later after your initial objective was met?  For Ottawa-based author Tammie Winsor the answer was clear: build on her initial success by achieving even more goals.

Apartment613 readers may recall the heartwarming story of how Winsor became a published author. Back in 2012, she emailed the CBC Ottawa radio program All in a Day to enter the Hopes and Dreams contest, which was raising funds for the Shepherds of Good Hope.

According to the contest rules, interested participants had to describe one of their dreams, and if selected to participate had five days to raise money.  The CBC would then do everything it could to make the dreams of the top three fundraisers come true.

Winsor, whose dream was to publish a children’s book, was among the lucky trio after she collected $2,310 in a few days.  Due to her fundraising prowess,  she subsequently released Jack and the Fairy Dogmother, a lovely story aimed at children from pre-school to grade two.

Encouraged by this success, she has released Caveman Jack, the second book in the series.  Like the original book, the sequel is illustrated by Ottawa graphic designer Greg Money.

“As the author, I come up with the concept for the story on my own and develop it; likewise, Greg should and does have the liberty to do the same thing with the illustrations,” says Winsor, when asked about her working relationship with Money.  “I love how he has a very different idea to match the script than I would have ever imagined.”

Among Money’s creative ideas are his special graphic surprises.

“Something that Greg did in Caveman Jack, which I really enjoy, is that he added several literary Easter eggs.  A literary Easter egg is something hidden on the page or something that has a double meaning,” says Winsor, who estimates that she has read to approximately 6,000 students during her numerous school visits.

“For instance, knowing that I am from Newfoundland, Greg inserted several Newfoundland literary Easter eggs including: Kiss the Cod, an iceberg, a license plate that spells ‘PUFFN’ and several others. . . On one of the pages he [also] included the cover of my first book and on another page he included the title of my third book [Wakeup Jack] which the text is currently being finalized.”

Tammie Winsor

Tammie Winsor

As for Caveman Jack, this sequel once again follows the adventures of Jack, who in this story has decided to act like a caveman and in the process get into mischief.  The tale was inspired by a caveman themed party that Winsor’s son had when he turned 6.

“One of the things I did in keeping with the theme was to give all of the children caveman name tags,” says Winsor.  “One of the children’s names was Jack and he was subsequently named Ooga Jacka; just like the name Jack gave himself in Caveman Jack. The meal for the party was chicken drumsticks and dried fruit which the children ate with their hands on the floor, another idea that comes alive in Caveman Jack.”

Becoming a published author, Winsor tells Apartment613, is one of the best experiences in her life..

“During the launch of Jack and the Fairy Dogmother . . . I literally did feel like I gave birth. I described it at the time as the fifth happiest day of my life – next to the birth of my three children and my wedding day,” she says.

“Just like I describe the personalities of my own children, I also describe Jack when explaining what my books are about to parents.  I describe Jack as an adventurous boy, who is not super badly behaved, but a little naughty.  A child that likes to use his imagination and is creative.”

This past year has been very busy for Winsor, as she has visited several schools in her native Newfoundland and Ottawa.

“The most exciting school visit in the past couple of months was to a high risk school in Vanier, St. Michael’s, where through donations I was able to provide all the grade two students with a free copy of Caveman Jack,” says Winsor.  “That was an incredible feeling!”

Caveman Jack can can be purchased at Kaleidoscope Kids’ Books (1018 Bank Street) in the Glebe, as well as Tag Along Toys at 1500 Bank Street and 499 Terry Fox Drive. 

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