Dad brings Maia's butterflies to life
Writing a book for his daughter was a labour of love for Mark Belchamber of Inglewood.
Maia's Adventure is a choose-your-own-path book, consisting of 16 small stories that capture moments in Maia Belchamber's life.
The book began two years ago, when Mr Belchamber recalled a memory the father and daughter share about a monarch butterfly.
"We used to love watching the caterpillars on swan plants, growing and eating. I thought ‘wouldn't it be lovely if they could talk to her'."
From there, more story ideas flooded in and the book grew, with illustrations added from wife and mother Helen.
"It's all the things Maia loves - unicorns, fairies and parts of her dreams," he said.
Mr Belchamber got a little emotional as Maia opened her gift on Christmas Day.
"It's really good. It's my special book," Maia said. "My favourite part is meeting the fairies."
So far the Norfolk School pupil has read seven of the stories, and her father could hear her laughing away at from her bedroom.
The paramedic spent numerous hours working on the book, and said the biggest challenge was arranging pages, given the sequence jumps forwards and backwards throughout.
The final product cost around $200, and was published by Publish Me, a Taranaki print and publishing company.
"I just wanted to do something really special. The number of adults who've seen the book and asked if they can read it is amazing. Everyone seems to remember ‘pick-your-own-path' books from their own childhood, but there don't seem to be many around now," the 46-year-old said.
The first-time writer set up the Facebook page "Maia's Adventure," which prompted interest from people locally and around the world.
Copies have gone to friends and family in the UK and Japan, and are still available for a small fee online.
Maia's sister, four-year-old Tahlia, will also get a book for her eighth Christmas, and Mr Belchamber has already begun working on it.
"I can't really write a book for one and not the other, can I?"
Taranaki Daily News