January 12, 2000

By Christine Ina Casillas
Staff Writer

Pictures say a thousand words. At least the pictures Parker resident Laurie McAdam illustrates.

McAdam has illustrated children's books for more than a year, after working as an editorial artist for a newspaper in Modesto, Calif., for 16 years.

Her watercolor illustrations are vibrant and colorful, and her favorite illustrations are whimsical, she said.

She illustrated full-page paintings for 16 years, and after her son grew old enough, she moved to Parker to live closer to her sister.

Her sister, Janice, owns a gift store, Sister Friend, which opened last August, and McAdam works with her until she can illustrate children's books full-time.

"I started thinking after working for the newspaper about how can I illustrate a children's book," she said.

She remembered an illustration she did for a story about a gopher, then decided to write her own gopher story, complete with illustrations. She sent the story and illustrations to publishers.

"I was more hoping the publishers would see my illustrations," she said, "because they might not like the story but they might like the illustrations."

One day, she was working at the store when a man from Highlands Ranch walked in carrying some children's books.

She told him she loved the book he carried, and "his eyes got big, and he said 'I wrote it,'" she said.

She mentioned that she painted illustrations, and the author, Justin Matott, asked to see some of her work.

"I met with him, and he said that I could illustrate any one of his books," she said.

She chose his book, "When Did I Meet You Grandma?"

"I feel like it was fate the way we met with him walking into a gift store," she said. "We mesh so well together -- his words with my illustrations."

McAdam had three months to complete 33 full-page full-color illustrations.

"I didn't have a life for three months," she said. "The illustrations started as rough ideas. I would show them to Justin, and we would play off each other. I could be off the wall; we made the book whimsical and fun."

Each page shows different grandmothers representing different cultures and ages, she said.

The books will include a spot in the front, a window of sorts, where children can slip a picture of their own grandmother. The back of the book has an illustrated interactive page.

After being printed overseas, "When Did I Meet You Grandma?" should be finished in April.

"It's not a book where a child can learn how to read but one a parent or adult would read to a child," she said.

McAdam has illustrated other children's books such as a New Zealand-based book called "Charlotte's Web page," the first book that included her name on the cover, and a novel cover for Shirley Coleman-Wells' "Fortress of the Heart ... The Story of Anna."