Park City’s favorite fictional moose returns
Local couple writes sequel to children’s book
November 22, 2016
When Park City author Heidi Shadix Pieros and her husband, photographer Rick Pieros, introduced a moose named Gilbert in their children's book, "Gilbert the Park City Moose," back in 2013, little did they know how popular he would be.
"The nice thing about Gilbert is that he's been accepted by the local residents and tourists," Pieros said during a joint Park Record interview with Shadix Pieros. "We've had friends who told us that while they have been out to eat at Vinto and a moose would walk by and kids in the restaurant would say, 'Look! There's Gilbert.'"
Shadix Pieros said similar instances happened to her.
"People will also tag me on Facebook and tell me that they saw Gilbert on Main Street," she said. "He has become a great cultural icon in Park City."
A few days ago, the couple released a new adventure called "Gilbert the Park City Moose Learns How to Ski," which continues Gilbert's journey through life.
"Both of the books teach different lessons, but follow the same path about how friends and family help address concerns," Pieros said. "'Gilbert the Park City Moose' is about him feeling alone and is worried about losing his antlers, but he finds help from his friends, who steer him to find answers from his aunt.
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"Gilbert the Park City Moose Learns How to Ski" also starts out with Gilbert facing a concern on his own.
"He wants to learn to ski, but has a hard time figuring it out," Pieros said. "So, he decided to take lessons and that's when he finds learning something new is more fun with friends.
"The book teaches the benefits of humbling yourself and relying on family and friends as well as perseverance," he said.
The idea for the new book stems from the couple's youngest daughter, Ivy.
"Our youngest daughter was struggling how to ski," Shadix Pieros said. "She's not like our older daughter who is a shredder and went from zero to hero. She's more cautious and tried skiing a few times, but developed a fear factor about skiing. We thought we could share that with other people who might be having the same experience."
Pieros took photographs all over Park City Mountain Resort, Canyons and Deer Valley.
"We took the photos on a few afternoons and a lot of them were just kismet, happenstance," the photographer said. "We took the photos of the kids skiing and it was spaced just right so we could get illustrations of Gilbert on the page."
Corbet Curfmanto, who did the art for "Gilbert the Park City Moose," did the design.
Curfmanto lives in Seattle and works on all of Pieros' books including "Park City Past and Present" and "Jackson Hole Past and Present." Curfmanto also helped design "Park City: A Portrait," a coffee-table book Pieros did with fellow photographer Mark Maziarz.
Pieros said he hit an artistic challenge when working on the recent Gilbert project. The last page that shows Gilbert on the ski lift with his friends took a while to get right.
"We needed to get three kids on an quad on the busy ski day and still make sure there was room so we could add Gilbert in, but the liftee kept grabbing single skiers to sit with the kids," Pieros said with a laugh. "We had to explain that we needed to save a space for our imaginary moose and they would say, 'There's not moose there.'"
Photo struggles aside, the project's biggest challenge was deemed the book's outline.
"We probably had 15 different ways that this book could have gone," Shadix Pieros said. "We had to think about sliming it down to the key points and find the goal to each of the scenarios."
Shadix Pieros threw away a lot of her writings because the page turns didn't work out or the storyboard didn't fit.
"I also had to make sure the cadence of the words flowed," she said.
Both books came from the desire to offer quality children's books to local residents and visitors, Pieros said.
"We had been reading a number of children's books for years to our children," he said. "It was always good to find a well thought-out story, but sometimes we would run across one that looked good, but found how horrible it was once we started reading it."
Shadix always wanted to write a children's book, and doing it with her husband seemed logical.
"It made sense that we would write something together that would be relative to the local community," she said. "I also wanted to write something that would create teachable moments for parents. I found that while I read children's books to my kids, I just didn't want to read the book, but I wanted to talk to them about what was happening in the book."
"Gilbert the Park City Moose Learns How to Ski" is available at Dolly's Bookstore, 510 Main St., and other retailers around town. Rick Pieros and Heidi Shadix Pieros will be at Dolly's to sign books from 3-5 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, Dec.19-20. They will also be there from 1-3 p.m. on the Saturdays of Nov. 26, Dec. 3 and Dec. 17. For more information, visit http://www.rickpieros.com.