Meet Kristen Riggle, author and illustrator of “The Busy Birds Adventures: Little Bird Explores Bend!”

What: Riggle discusses and signs her book during First Friday Gallery Walk

When: 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday Where: Clementine Urban Mercantile, 855 NW Wall St., Bend

Cost: free Contact: 541-306-3099

What: Book launch event with reading, signing, children’s crafts and refreshments.

When: noon to 2 p.m. Saturday

Where: Dudley’s Bookshop Cafe, 135 NW Minnesota Ave., Bend

Cost: free

Contact: dudleysbookshopcafe.com or 541-749-2010

What: Storytime — Riggle reads and signs her book

When: 11 a.m. to noon, June 23 Where: Roundabout Books, 900 NW Mt. Washington Drive, Suite 110, Bend

Cost: free

Contact: roundaboutbookshop.com or 541-306-6564

When Kristen Riggle relocated to Bend with her husband Jacob about 18 months ago from Southern California, she hoped the natural beauty of her new surroundings would inspire her creativity and artwork. She didn’t imagine that the move would prompt her to write and illustrate a children’s book. However, that’s where her journey has led.

“The Busy Birds Adventures: Little Bird Explores Bend!” is a whimsical story told in rhyme about Little Bird and his avian friends enjoying some of Central Oregon’s best known landmarks, including Tumalo Falls, Mount Bachelor, Smith Rock, Pilot Butte, Drake Park and others.

Riggle will read and discuss the story, answer questions and sign copies of the book at a book launch event Saturday in Bend. Children’s craft activities, a raffle and snacks will also be provided.

Since earning a bachelor’s degree in fine arts with an emphasis in painting and a master of arts degree in sculpture in 2014, Riggle had undertaken various conceptual and interactive art projects. But the seeds for “Little Bird Explores Bend!” were planted back in 2008.

“I was just doodling really on pieces of tree bark,” Riggle said. “I was making these long-legged creatures and they all turned into birds and each one had a different meaning or made up different parts of a person. Then it slowly gravitated towards things that bring you joy and fulfill your soul.”

“Then when we moved to Bend, I created a Bend bird series focusing on the different activities people enjoy here,” said Riggle. “We love that we can go 20 minutes one way to a mountain, and then 20 minutes another way to a waterfall or the desert.”

Before long, Riggle had created a host of Bend birds including fisher bird, ski bird, bike bird, kayaker bird and many more. As the cast of Bend characters grew, so did the idea for an illustrated book that would feature them.

Riggle describes herself as a visual person who has always been drawn to the simplicity of children’s books and loved picture books in general. However with “Little Bird Explores Bend!” she was trying to write a book that people of any age could enjoy, not just children.

“Kids are always filled with so much wonder and awe and imagination,” said Riggle. “That’s really nurtured as a kid, but as you get older that’s harder to keep up. It can be harder to find the beauty and wonder, so I like the idea of grown-ups being able to read picture books as well.”

Riggle found inspiration in other children’s book artists, including Oliver Jeffers, Eric Carl and Dr. Seuss, but had never before written or illustrated a book. Beginning in August 2017, she spent around nine months researching, brainstorming, writing and illustrating her story, working eight to 10 hours a day, five to six days a week.

The text of Riggle’s story uses playful, sing-song poems that she drafted, refined and revised until the sequencing and flow of the story felt right. She also spent many hours on each illustration, first sketching and then layering acrylic paints on each picture to create a saturation of intense colors.

While Riggle did some logistical research to determine the structure and practical constraints she should work within, she didn’t get too caught up in that aspect of creating her book.

“Primarily I just went from my gut because I really wanted this to come from my heart, rather than be created for the market,” she said.

After exploring various possibilities, Riggle opted to self-publish the book to speed up the publishing process and control the design elements.

Because the book was Bend-themed, she wanted it to be largely community driven and sold through local, independent retailers — an approach she felt didn’t require a traditional publisher.

“Little Bird Explores Bend!” is available at several local retailers, thebusybirds.com and Amazon.com.

Riggle hopes to write more books in the future, while also continuing her other artistic endeavors.

“I’ve realized how important that is in life — to find those things that really make you tick and feel whole,” she said.

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