Robbie Campbell lost his livelihood when the pandemic shut down Shambhala Music Festival. Instead, he spent part of 2020 working on a children’s book called Tulip that is now available. Photo: Submitted

Robbie Campbell lost his livelihood when the pandemic shut down Shambhala Music Festival. Instead, he spent part of 2020 working on a children’s book called Tulip that is now available. Photo: Submitted

In a lousy year, a Kootenay man was saved by a pink T-rex

Robbie Campbell became a children’s author after the pandemic cost him his livelihood

A dancing Tyrannosaurus rex helped turn Robbie Campbell’s frown upside down.

Last April, Campbell lost his livelihood when Shambhala Music Festival announced it would be postponed for 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Campbell’s company books acts for the event, as well as builds a stage, hires lighting staff and provides video. But the festival’s cancellation, the same week his wife had just given birth to their fourth child, meant he had no work for the year.

“It was devastating,” he says.

But at home near Nelson, Campbell turned his attention to an image of a T-rex trying, and failing, to fly that he thought could be the seed of a children’s book he might read to his kids.

That book turned out to be Tulip, the story of a pink T-rex who grows up with birds, which Campbell published in December.

Campbell’s kids inspired the plot of the book about a dinosaur who fails at flight only to discover a different talent.

“Every parent gets really worried about their kids when they’re younger,” says Campbell. “Are they developing fast enough? Are they keeping up with that kid who can already talk and that kid who can crawl? You want the best for your child.”

Campbell has had plenty of experience worrying about his kids. His oldest child is autistic, and Campbell used to fret over his son’s future.

But as the years went on, Campbell realized he shouldn’t have been concerned.

“You worry as a parent. You think, oh man, is he going to make it in life? Are things going to be good for him?

“But now he’s 17 and brilliant. He’s Forex trading and he’s so strong and so helpful. You realize, man, all those things that I worried about were just crazy. Kids are all different.”

Telling Tulip’s story, however, wasn’t so open and shut.

Campbell is a trained graphic designer who opted to draw the book by hand instead of digitally as a way of making it stand out on book stands. But first he had to write it.

“It’s exceedingly difficult to write a children’s book, believe it or not, because of the level of simplicity you have to write it with,” he says. “That was a real wake up call for me when I was doing it. I didn’t realize just how difficult it was to write a kid’s book.”

Meet Tulip, the protagonist of a new children’s book by Robbie Campbell. Illustration: Robbie Campbell

Meet Tulip, the protagonist of a new children’s book by Robbie Campbell. Illustration: Robbie Campbell

He then faced another challenge in finding a publisher. The pandemic, he found, had made publishers reluctant to take a book from an unknown author.

Eventually Campbell opted to self-publish the book, which is now available at Nelson’s Otter Books, Coles Books and on Amazon.

He isn’t making a career pivot to full-time children’s author, but Campbell is excited by an idea he has for a second book. Tulip has been a hit with his kids, and Campbell says he’s had families reach out to say how much they’ve enjoyed it.

“They’re waiting for me to write another one.”

@tyler_harper | tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Literature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

Kimberley’s Local Food Working Group is looking for input from backyard gardeners. Eco friendly gardening file
Kimberley and area resident survey seeks insights on backyard food growing trends

In the past year or so, a number of Kimberley organizations have… Continue reading

Some of the folks behind Angel Flight East Kootenay: Todd Weselake is a director, partner and pilot while Brent Bidston is the president and lead pilot of the not-for-profit. Pictured here with their older plane, they hope to get an upgrade for thanks to RDEK funding. (Image courtesy of Angel Flight East Kootenay)
Angel Flight secures RDEK funding for next five years

$100,000 will go to the not-for-profit each year, with the funds to be used to acquire a larger plane

survey
City of Kimberley wants to know about your housing needs

There is no doubt that housing availability in Kimberley is an issue.… Continue reading

The city will undertake a feasibility study on the Marysville Arena. Bulletin file.
Feasibility study on viability of Marysville Arena about to get underway

Study will determine the future viability of Marysville Arena, and provide other alternatives for a second ice surface

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Most Read