OXFORD -- Local author and Oxford native Erik Oliver is hoping to get children in the mood for Halloween and at the same time give them some quality learning time.
Just last month, he presented his second published book, "Kid Cavalier on a Halloween Quest," which is his first children's book.
He wrote and illustrated it many years ago and decided to dust it off in tribute to the boy who inspired it and his own children just in time for Oct. 31.
"I grew up enthralled with elaborately illustrated children's books, and I always looked forward to Halloween," Oliver said. "It was a natural match to someday write and illustrate my own Halloween book. I wrote and illustrated this many years ago, but it wasn't until I became a parent myself that I found the extra inspiration to finally produce it."
The book chronicles the adventure of a young trick-or-treater in the guise of a superhero, Oliver said.
"He winds his way through the spooky corridors and cobwebbed halls of a sinister stronghold and determinedly dodges its denizens on a quest for toothsome treasures," he said. "Along the way, the Kid Cavalier must face formidable fears and challenge himself to find an ever greater treasure."
The book was inspired by Oliver's 9-year-old "little brother," Cody, who he mentored when he was involved with Big Brothers/Big Sisters some years back.
"(He) was a particularly daring and vivacious kid," Oliver said.
So in 1996, on his way home from work, he came up with an idea for a book -- somewhat of a twist on "The 12 Days of Christmas" -- and, for about four months, he started drawing pictures to illustrate the book. He most recently had it published and printed.
"I'm very pleased with the quality, and I'm proud that not only was it printed in the U.S., but it was printed here in our own county through Associated Printing," Oliver said. "They hadn't done anything like this before, so it was fun for them, too. With the advances in technology and offset printing capability in our own community, there's no need to print overseas or even out of state."
The book is targeted to ages 2 to 12, and Oliver said adults also might enjoy it.
"It's pretty universal," he said.
Last fall, Oliver had published "Cornerstone and Grove: A Portrait in Architecture and Landscape of Emory's Birthplace in Oxford, Georgia," which give a history of the campus that began in 1836 and the surrounding town. It also includes several of Oliver's drawings.
Next, Oliver hopes to publish another children's book, "Storm Not So Scary," which he has already written and illustrated and will be ready for production if his first children's book is successful.
"I have pieces and ideas for several others," he said. "I have a deep affinity for children's books, attributable to my parents exposing me to so many of them at an early age."
He also would like to create a companion to his Oxford College book comprised of information about the town of Oxford that didn't make it into the final version of the book due to length. He also hopes to write other books about small communities, especially around Newton County.
"My academic training and my undergraduate and graduate degrees are in history," he said.
"Kid Cavalier" is available for purchase at Mayfield's Ace Hardware on the Square in Covington, Life Dance Wellness Center, Van GO's Art Studio on Floyd Street in Covington, the Oxford College bookstore, online at www.operaevocata.com and soon in the Border's bookstore at Stonecrest Mall and other locations.
Oliver also is available to read the book, draw pictures and discuss the process of writing and illustrating to local elementary school students. Interested administrators and teachers should e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.