Chippiepierre's Magic Paintbrush Tail: A Steamboat Adventure
By Deborah Taylor
What do you do when you move to the Northern Neck after working in New Jersey in the environmental field for twenty-two years? For Barbara Dietz, the answer was simple: write a book. “I always wanted to write a children’s book. I knew it would be about animals since I love them so much, but I needed something more.”
When she learned about the Chesapeake steamboat era in the 1800s, a light bulb went on. She dove in–fearlessly–dreaming up a story involving her beloved cats, Chippiepierre, a domestic short hair, and Gidgett, a black-and-white fluff ball. Thus, Chippiepierre’s Magic Paintbrush Tail: A Steamboat Adventure was born.
Illustrated by Reedville artist, George Frayne, the book is a humorous and heartwarming tale of feline friendship and adventure in a time when life in the region was dependent on the big, huffing steamboats that plied the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. It took her a full year to write it, although she admits, “becoming computer savvy, learning the ins and outs of self-publishing, plus life’s interruptions” lengthened the time frame considerably.
The story opens with Chippiepierre putting a few finishing touches on a painting of a Chesapeake Bay side-wheeler steamer, when his best friend, Gidgett, startles him and the painting topples over. He wakes to find himself on the steamboat in the year 1894. When he takes off to find Gidgett, the adventures begin.
The author and her husband, artist Richard Kantor, live in Merry Point on Virginia’s Northern Neck. Richard’s oil painting of the steamboat Lancaster, which hangs in the Rappahannock Art League Gallery, is featured on the book’s cover.
To order the book, visit Barbara’s website at barbaradietz.com. It is also available at The Book Nook in Kilmarnock, through CreateSpace.com and Amazon.com, as well as other fine shops and museums in the Northern Neck, Eastern Shore, and Maryland.