By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

By the students, for the students of Central Washington University

The Observer

CWU student harkens back to his childhood with children’s book

Yohanes Goodell
Brian Valencia reading ‘The Dog Who Barked… and Barked, and Barked…’

Junior public relations major Brian Valencia is releasing a children’s book. “The Dog Who Barked… and Barked, and Barked…” tells the story of just that, a dog who has a real affinity for barking. The dog, Nova, fears that she has driven away her owners because of her excessive barking. Nova must deal with her emotions, and some unexpected turmoil, as the story unfolds. 

Self-proclaimed “cat guy” Valencia said his book is the reworking of a project he was assigned in his youth. 

“At the time I really liked dogs. Now, I’m a cat guy,” Valencia said. “It was in fifth grade, we were supposed to make books for kindergarteners. Mine never got finished, at least the illustrations, which seemed to be a common theme with this book. I had it and nothing much happened with it.” 

Valencia’s experience with that assignment, as well as whenever people would come in and read storybooks to him and his class in grade school, inspired him to reclaim this book and begin on it anew. 

“That’s kind of what pushed me to want to do this book as well,” Valencia said. “I remember when people would come into our elementary school and talk about their book. I always thought it was the coolest thing that you came in and read us a book and I kind of want to do that eventually. That’s the goal. I hated reading, and now I love reading.”

Valencia looked back on the unique way he wrote as a fifth grader, and how it differs from how he wanted to approach re-working the story in the present day. 

“When you’re in fifth grade you write a certain way,” Valencia said. “It’s very hard to read and it’s really weird. As a kid we’ll write the most heinous things ever … I ended up switching a lot of the elements. The core is still the exact same. I changed how it read just because I wanted to make it a little more cohesive.”

The book remained dormant in both Valencia’s home and his memory until early 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, where Valencia rediscovered the book under unfortunate circumstances. 

“I had it in an old notebook. I found it four years ago when COVID hit,” Valencia said. “Our family had to move because our house got sold, so I was looking through all my old kid stuff as you do you know, every now and then you get curious and check your old things.” 

When Valencia found the book, he was taken aback by how he still found it entertaining. Valencia offered a look at what the original story looked like, which took a slightly darker but humorous turn than the final product. 

“The original story when I wrote it was supposed to be about a dog family, and in the original story the family actually abandoned the kid,” Valencia said. “That’s one thing I really had to take off, they left like 20 bucks on the bed. They were like ‘We’re moving out, you bark a lot. Here’s 20 bucks.’ $20 was a lot of money for me back then.” 

While Valencia fancies himself as a writer, he knew he couldn’t take on illustration duties. Finding commission artists too expensive, Valencia was able to get in contact with an old co-worker with ambitions of illustrating for a book. 

“I always ask for examples when I’m working with someone,” Alana Jacobs, CWU graphic design alum said. “[Brian] sent me examples of pieces of artwork he liked from other children’s books and then kind of told me the vibe he was going for.”

Previously coworkers together for CWUs marketing department, Jacobs currently works as a freelance graphic designer and jumped at the opportunity to work with Valencia on a children’s book, something that has been a dream project of hers. 

“I was so excited to do this project for him,” Jacobs said. “I have always wanted to illustrate a children’s book. That’s really my end goal in life, to do full-time illustration.”

Along with her loose direction from Valencia, Jacobs drew from many other corners for her inspiration. 

“I actually really love ‘Adventure Time’, and watched a lot of ‘Steven Universe’,”  Jacobs said. “But when I was a kid I read a ton of children’s books, like everyone does. I really loved Roald Dahl, who illustrated and wrote children’s books like ‘Matilda’ and ‘The BFG’.”

“The Dog Who Barked… and Barked, and Barked…” is available on Amazon Nov. 15. 

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