Following Freddy and his fabulous friends 

Builder and story-teller becomes author of children’s books

click to enlarge Local talent on the page Author Tim Regan leafs through the pages of his book Fantastic Freedy and His Fabulous Friends, which was illustrated by Myrtle Philip students. Photo by Holly Fraughton.
  • Local talent on the page Author Tim Regan leafs through the pages of his book Fantastic Freedy and His Fabulous Friends, which was illustrated by Myrtle Philip students. Photo by Holly Fraughton.

A local with a natural knack for spinning yarns has put one of his tales to paper.

Tim Regan is the co-owner of a construction and design company, but first got into the story-telling game about 10 years ago, as a single father telling his son bedtime tales.

Story time was so popular with his own kids that he eventually decided to take his show on the road, and began visiting classes at Myrtle Philip school.

“There was this one story about Rotten Ralphie and the Reindeer that I thought was quite good, so I went into the school,” Regan recalled.

Rotten Ralphie was a huge hit, and Regan soon began taking requests from students. Now, Regan has a story for every special event and holiday, and visits five classes about once a month.

Regan finally decided to publish one of his stories after Susan Christopher, a teacher at Myrtle Philip, encouraged him to commit the story to paper.

“I’ve written most of them down, but I’ve never had the view to publish them because it was more of an oral tradition,” said Regan.

But with Christopher’s encouragement he rifled through his repertoire, selected the tale of Fantastic Freddy and his Fabulous Friends, and enlisted the help of Christopher’s Grade 2 class to illustrate the book.

The vibrant fable chronicles the journey of Freddy the fish and his fabulous friends from their modest home at Myrtle Philip Community School, down the Lillooet River to the ocean and back again. On their way to the ocean, the school of smelt lends a helping fin to a distressed grizzly bear, a baby eagle and a seal.

Their kindness is repaid five years later, when, as adult salmon, Freddy and his friends make the journey back up the Lillooet River to spawn. They encounter hungry black bears and determined fisherman, but are saved by the predators they had helped on their way downstream. The seals return to destroy ominous fishing nets, the grizzly bear fights off menacing black bears, and avenging eagles swoop down to foil fishermen’s plans by delivering brutal wedgies.

“Not one of those fisherman was thinking about fishing,” Regan narrates. “When a giant eagle grabs hold of your underwear, it is hard to keep your hands on your fishing rod!”

The story of Fantastic Freddy is actually somewhat rooted in fact: Regan wrote it during a half-hour bus trip from Myrtle Philip to Pemberton to release a school of fish the students had raised.

“Ms. Friend grew salmon in her class, and Freddy was amongst them,” Regan said with a grin.

“…He was a special fella from the time he was born. He was a fish amongst fish.”

All of Regan’s stories have some sort of moral message for the kids, and the tale of fantastic Freddy is no exception.

“I think obviously any salmon would initially be reluctant to help animals that eat them, and that was part of Freddy’s special quality — that he saw beyond his fears,” said Regan.

Ms. Christopher’s students were thrilled to see the finished product.

“They loved it. They were really excited,” said Regan.

“I think they had a feeling that it was permanent and that their artwork is immortalized in a book.”

Eight-year-old Ocea Grant is one of the talented young artists who helped illustrate the story of Fantastic Freddy. She says her favorite part of the book is “when they get helped by all his friends from when he helped them.” She says she learned that “if you help someone, they’ll probably help you back.”

Ocea says Regan is a good storyteller, and was very excited to receive a copy of Fantastic Freddy and his Fabulous Friends so she can read the story at home.

“I think it’s really fun when he tells it, but it’s good when he takes it and makes it into a book because then we can have it anytime.”

Regan even signed Ocea’s copy, thanking her for her contribution of positive energy and hard work.

Regan thinks the book will be popular with kids who have listened to his stories over the years.

“I’m expecting there to be some fan base out there that wants to buy some.”

But he points out that his foray into publishing isn’t a commercial venture — after covering the cost of printing, any profits will go towards the new public library.

“I’m going to do my little bit to help them get back on track,” said Regan.

The library was an obvious choice for Regan, as he has ties to the local literary community and hopes to use the new library as a venue to tell his stories.

Two hundred copies of Fanastic Freddy and his Fabulous Friends were produced in the first printing, and began selling at Armchair Books late last week for $10 apiece.

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