‘Gilbert the Park City Moose’ children’s book was Park City couple’s dream project
Park City-based photographer Rick Pieros is known for his non-fiction works, "Park City Then and Now" and "Jackson Hole Then and Now," which feature his new photos alongside historical photos of the same areas.
His wife, Heidi Shadix Pieros, who works at a book-publishing company, has always wanted to write a children’s book.
So when her husband’s "Park City Then and Now" was published to critical acclaim in 2011, she began brainstorming with her husband about her children’s story.
A couple of weeks ago, the couple’s dream came true with "Gilbert the Park City Moose," that is now available exclusively at Dolly’s Bookstore.
The book follows an adolescent moose named Gilbert on his quest up and down Park City’s historic Main Street to find out where his antlers went after he shed them for the winter.
"Back in 2011, we started tossing around ideas and tried to think of what would be a good character for the book," Rick Pieros told The Park Record. "The challenge was to think of a fun and inventive tale that both young and old kids would like.
"We also needed to think about a story that parents would like to read over and over again," he said. "We have kids and have books on our shelves that they want us to read that we just can’t read once more. So the key was to come up with something fun."
The Pieroses knew people in Park City love moose so they started with that idea.
"Since my photography books kind of establish a sense of place for those who read them, that was something we wanted to do with ‘Gilbert,’ Pieros said. "Whether it is a tourist who considers Park City their home away from home or a local resident who reads this book, we wanted them to have a sense of the area."
Once the Pieroses established the setting, they came up with the idea that Gilbert’s friends would be statues that are on display on Main Street.
"We could imagine a moose walking up and down the street visiting these statues and thought it would be fun if he would talk with them to find out where he could find his antlers," Pieros said. "We had the idea that after the kids had fun reading this book, they could go to Main Street with their families to look for Gilbert’s ‘friends.’"
To help, the Pieroses included a map at the back of the book.
"Originally, the book was going to be Heidi’s words and all illustrations, but she wanted some of my photography in it, because she has always been very supportive of me," Pieros said. "So we had to think of an inventive way to do this."
The two came up with the idea of using Pieros’ photos and recruiting Corbet Curfmanto incorporate his illustrations of Gilbert the Moose into the photos.
"Corbet lives in Seattle and is my graphic designer," Pieros said. "He was a natural fit for us on this project, because not only is he works with me, but because he has also illustrated other children’s books."
Pieros took the photos specifically for the book.
"I went to Moos, the Post Office, Grappa, Dolly’s Bookstore and other places where these statues and landmarks were," he said. "My photography just followed the story and flowed from there."
Taking the photos for the children’s book was different than the "Past and Present" books because Pieros knew he had to frame the scenes in a way to save space for Curfman’s illustrations.
"It was like being an actor acting in front of a green screen," Pieros explained. "You have to visualize where the moose is going to be in the scene and photograph widely. I wanted Corbet to have a choice of at least four different photos for each panel."
Pieros likes how Curfman worked Gilbert’s facial expressions into the scenes.
"He tied them into what was going on in the story," Pieros said.
Since becoming a professional photographer, Pieros said "Gilbert the Park City Moose" has been the most enjoyable project he’s done.
"I think I had more fun doing this book with my wife than I did doing my other books alone," he said. "I think it had to do with the collaboration."
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