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Hitting the shelves . . . Carla Wilson is getting ready to help launch the book Tales from Chatto Creek – Bike Bandits. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

ALEXIA.JOHNSTON
@alliedpress.co.nz

The Otago Central Rail Trail season is about to enter a new chapter.

A children’s book, centred around the rail trail and Chatto Creek Tavern, will be launched this weekend, just in time for the district’s cycling season.

The book, titled Tales from Chatto Creek – Bike Bandits, features local identities in the form of animals, including donkeys as publicans and sheep as patrons.

A sneak preview of the storyline tells of a “buzz” around Chatto Creek as the rail trail season gets under way.

“All is going well until the infamous pesky rabbits from over the hill try their best to destroy the celebrations,” the blurb states.

Tales from Chatto Creek is the work of two Southland couples, Sheree and Dwayne Carey, Carla Wilson and Jade Gillies.

It was an idea they had worked on for about two years while enjoying their annual summer break in the small Central Otago town.

The Careys have a holiday home in the area and Miss Wilson and Mr Gillies would often visit.

It was during those visits that they would talk about characters and their plans to write a children’s book.

“Carla went away and did something with all this craziness,” Mrs Carey said, of the many ideas they had.

Miss Wilson, an English teacher, used her skills to write the book, and her partner, Mr Gillies, helped publish it through his company, Gillies Creative.

Freelance illustrator Mark Balita, who is based in the Philippines, created the pictures.

“I think it’s amazing,” Mrs Carey said of the finished product.

“It’s something that started as a crazy idea.”

She was grateful to have friends with the motivation and the passion to make the dream a reality.

Miss Wilson was pleased to have been involved.

“We often talked about the animals and talked about the story,” she said.

“We see Chatto Creek as a community – you go down to the pub and everyone knows everyone and then the rail-trailers come through and are becoming part of it too. It’s kind of what we wanted to show through [in the story],” she said.

Chatto Creek publican Lesley Middlemass was among those looking forward to the book’s launch, taking place at the tavern at 2pm on Saturday.

“I’m ecstatic; how could you not be?” she said.

“It’s a privilege – it’s about my cantankerous donkeys running the pub.”