COLLABORATION: Damian Portaro and Anita Adams.

WHEN the family’s beach holiday to Rye late last year went ‘awry’    early into the journey, little did Mildura’s Damian Portaro know it would be the catalyst for a colour-ful and entertaining children’s story book, based on their experience, called Icky Sticky, which he has produced with the assistance of award-winning book designer Anita Adams.

The recently-published hard cover book is beautifully bound, and features bright coloured images accompanied by easy to read text, making it an ideal addition to any young child’s library.

“The reaction to the book has been huge!” Damian said. Something the book’s art director and illustrator agreed was great to see. 

“It’s nice to see that reaction, because it was just something I did because I could and it was great to be able to collaborate with Damian on this fun project,” Anita said.

“It all started with my young son Alessio, who was 18 months old at the time, having a huge vomit in the car, barely an hour into the trip,” Damian said.

“The smell in the car was horrific, not exactly setting the tone for a pleasant car trip to Rye.”

“When we finally arrived at our destination and settled into our accommodation, we were in the swimming pool for less than an hour, and the heavens opened up! It didn’t stop raining for the entire holiday!

“That meant no beach, no pool, no strawberry picking – not much of anything, and when you have two young children who need constant entertaining – it makes it hard.”

Damian said he was then inspired to write a story about the holiday saga.

“I started to write the story and I was about 80 per cent complete, when I then met Anita, and she mentioned she was a book designer,” Damian said.” I said ‘what’s a book designer?’

“In her typically modest fashion, Anita downplayed it at first, but I ended up inviting her to help me complete the book and to get it printed and published.”

Anita said she was only to pleased to assist, given it was something she was very experienced in doing.

“I said to Damian that I could do that for him and we went from there,” she said. “I studied design at RMIT, following which I worked in various publishing houses in Melbourne.

“During that time, I produced a lot of educational material prior to going freelance and returning to Mildura with my son to be with my mother and family.

“When Damian first talked to me about the project, I said that rather than having me design the book and commission illustrators, I could piece it together for him and this was the result.”

While Damian has only printed what he describes as “a handful of copies”, largely for family and friends to enjoy, given the positive reaction to the first print run, plans are already underway to produce more copies.

“It’s a lovely little story, you read it and you laugh – it’s really nice,” Anita said.