It was a trip down memory lane for Island author Kathy Birt when she listened to CBC Radio Maritime Noon this past January.
The host for the day, Carolyn Ray, had as her guests the authors of “Saltwater Mittens”, a book about mittens originally knit for fishermen in Newfoundland.
As the author listened to the show, she had a sudden urge to write about the mittens and socks her Granny, Evelyn Marshall, knit for her and her siblings back in the 1950s when they were growing up in Covehead Road.
Birt immediately drove into a store parking lot, pulled pen and notebook from her purse and wrote several verses.
The following week she read the rhyming poem to her writing group, TWiG (The Writer’s in Group), and was encouraged when members said it was a great poem for kids.
That was all it took for Birt, the author of a dozen books, to begin planning for a children’s Christmas book.
And that book, "Red Mittens Green Socks", will be launched on Dec. 7, 2 p.m., at the Confederation Centre Public Library.
“I initially met with Duncan Brooks, the young illustrator of ‘The Turnip Tune Up’ book, in May, and again in late summer to collaborate on the illustrations,” said Birt, adding that her book was somewhat of a bigger challenge for Duncan, a student in graphic design at Holland College.
“Getting the illustrations to look authentic (to the '50s era) meant some research on both our parts."
After the meetings when the illustrations were coming together, they exchanged many emails to get the book ready for Kelly Grey, who has worked on the graphics of several of her books.
The author says Granny, who lived in Stanhope, always sent the parcel early with the mailman, so they could be opened and the warm socks and mittens used right away.
“It was the only gift we would see and open before Christmas morning. So, it was an exciting time for myself and my brothers and sisters. And, yes, we got excited about these red mittens and green socks or (green mittens and red socks) that Granny knit for us.”
In addition to the launch, books will be available in local bookstores and gift shops, as well as at the Charlottetown Farmers' Market.