Carson Crosses Canada: How this Emily Carr Alumni’s Illustrations bring Canada’s Landscapes to Life

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If you’ve been searching for a beautifully illustrated Canadian story to share with your children, look no further. Carson Crosses Canada, written by Linda Bailey and illustrated by Kass Reich, is the story of Annie and her dog Carson as they embark together on a cross Canada road trip. It’s a celebration of our incredible country and was released just in time for Canada’s 150th birthday. Kass Reich’s illustrations in Carson Crosses Canada capture the breathtaking scenery and wildlife of this country. We spoke to Kass about her time in BC and illustrating her favourite Canadian landscapes.

VIA: When did you start illustrating?

KR: I’ve been illustrating since 2010. For the most part it was something I did on the side while I worked full time as an art educator. It was only a year and a half ago when I made the decision to give it a shot as a full time thing.

VIA: You spent time living and studying in BC at Emily Carr. What are some fond memories of your time here?

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KR: Well, for starters I took a tugboat to school everyday. I don’t think it gets more charming then that, it almost sounds made up. Granville island is pretty much too adorable to be true. One of the things I love the most about Vancouver is that it’s an action packed city with super easy access to incredible wildlife nearby. I remember taking a walk in Stanley park during my first week there and saw a bald eagle. I basically freaked out, it was probably the most majestic things I’d ever seen and it was only about 10 meters away from me. I couldn’t wait to tell my boyfriend (originally from Abbotsford), and I remember him being so unimpressed with my story. I later learned just how common they are in BC.

VIA: What were your favourite elements to illustrate from BC?

KR: Without a doubt it’s the mountains. I am obsessed with mountainscapes. I love how they appear blue and in the distance and I love the feeling of grandeur you get when see them. I would say a close second would be the giant Redwood trees.

VIA: Have you visited many of the spots Carson and Annie visit in the book?

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KR: Yes, but I wish I could say I’ve visited all of them. I’ve seen more on the East coast compared to the West Coast. So things get more familiar in the second half of the book. My faves are Quebec City and PEI. I would love to visit Tofino. All the reference photos I used for that part of the book were so incredible.

VIA: What’s next for you? 

KR: I’m working on two projects at the moment. One with KidsCan Press and another one with Tundra Books. Both due to be published next year. I’m also working on launching my online shop to sell prints of my work. Hopefully that will be up and running very soon!

Kass Reich works as an artist and educator, who after spending the majority of the last decade traveling and living abroad, now finds herself back in Canada living in Toronto. Carson Crosses Canada is available now through Tundra Books, a Penguin Random House company. You can follow Kass on Instagram HERE