The popular children's book in Alberta “Howdy, I’m John Ware” has won two prestigious awards.

“Howdy, I’m John Ware”, ideal for ages 6-10, recounts the real-life story of a gifted horseman who blazed a trail of kindness despite experiencing enslavement, war, and discrimination. 

Hugh Rookwood, a local illustrator here in Airdrie, met Ayesha Clough through a third party. She was looking for an Illustrator to do John Ware, and Rookwood was more than excited to take on the project. 

“We had a meeting and she told me how she was looking to get an illustrator to do the John Ware story. With me being a black Canadian, she thought that it would be perfect to just go along with that for the story and from there we just went to town and got John Ware.” 

Rookwood went on to say that it's been amazing with how well the book has done, now winning two awards. The “Heritage Calgary Storytelling” award on September 15th and then the “Children’s Book of the Year” at the Alberta Book Publishing Awards two days later September 17th. 

“It’s been such an honour to bring the story of this pioneer Alberta rancher to a new generation of kids,” says Rookwood.   

The animated version of the story is by far the top-viewed video on Bibliovideo, a Canada council-funded YouTube channel that showcases Canadian children's books. 

“This is so much more than a regional story,” says author Ayesha Clough, a former news reporter who started Red Barn Books to publish western-themed stories from Alberta. “Our success on Bibliovideo shows there’s a huge appetite all over the country for diverse Canadian stories.” 

The second book in the Howdy series about Alberta pioneers is coming out in Spring 2022. “Howdy, I’m Flores LaDue”, the story of the three-time world champion trick roper and ‘First Lady of the Calgary Stampede’. The third book, “Howdy, I’m Harnam Singh Hari” is planned for 2023. 

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