Cover of Studebaker’s new book. Via Sense of Place Press
Songs and stories go together like outhouses and… well… octopuses? Stacy Studebaker says she’s just published a second children’s book called “Octopus in the Outhouse,” based on lyrics she wrote twenty years ago when she was part of a band in Kodiak.
“We produced three music CDs with our own original music and one was called Alaska Animal Tales and Tunes for which I wrote most of the material… most of the songs, and one of the songs was Hey Bear, Ho Bear, so people over the years said, you know, you should turn the lyrics of that song into a children’s book.”
Which she did. “Hey Bear, Ho Bear,” follows a young green-haired character and her weasel, as does this most recent release. She says “Octopus in the Outhouse” was based on a real experience she had when she and her husband stumbled upon a cabin during a kayak trip. They decided to camp there for the night and at some point, she ventured outside to use the facilities.
“And as I was walking to the outhouse, I heard a lot of strange sounds coming from within, so I very carefully opened up the door and ran face to face with a porcupine that was sitting on the seat, that was about three quarters chewed through by the way, and it turned out that a whole family of porcupines had moved into that outhouse.”
Studebaker says her heroine travels to different iconic Alaskan places.
“Wherever she goes, she goes to use an outhouse and in each place, she goes to use the outhouse and some appropriate wildlife has moved into the outhouse. For instance, in Barrow, of course it’s the polar bears that have moved into the outhouse.”
Studebaker says she worked closely with her illustrator, Kay Underwood, who was a Kodiak resident for many years and now lives in Anchorage. Underwood draws her illustrations with colored pencils and they are vivid and full of movement. She says the book reflects an Alaskan way of life that both author and illustrator have experienced.
“We both lived these lives been to all these places and we have a cabin in Talkeetna, so when I was doing a sunrise in Talkeetna, it was the view that I would look at, and the pictures that I’ve taken, I know that the sunrise is right here because I’ve been there.”
Studebaker published “Octopus in the Outhouse” through her company, Sense of Place Press. You can find out more about this book and others by Studebaker on the press’s website.