Deering native draws on talents

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 29, 2005

After a decade of illustrating the facts, one Deering woman is taking a chance on more whimsical pursuits, beginning with one rude rooster.

Alisa Nance graduated from Dawson-Bryant High School in 1991 before obtaining a degree in graphic design from Ohio University Southern. After working locally for a few years, she found herself at one of the world’s most prestigious publications: The New York Times.

Nance’s focus at the paper is on informational graphics, designing images that can help illustrate stories. Her latest assignment, however, veers from charts about vaccines and dinosaur DNA to illustrating a children’s book with an educational spin.

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“Rudy the Rude Rooster” — published by the Kaplan Early Learning Company —

tells the cautionary tale of a chicken whose attitude is simply … fowl.

“He is a very pompous rooster,” Nance said with a laugh. “He sort of learns his lesson when none of the other critters want to hang out with him. But he comes around in the end.”

“Rudy” was written by Amy Williford, a speech and language pathologist in Chapel Hill, N.C. who hopes the book’s message extends beyond just teaching manners. Williford’s book takes a multi-lingual approach, allowing young readers to learn how to be polite with both sign language and Spanish.

Although Williford’s writing strives to be educational, Nance appreciated the chance to forgo teaching for a while to express her creative side.

“It’s just silly, there’s no correct way,” Nance said. “When you’re writing, or doing graphics for a newspaper, everything has to be perfectly accurate. So it’s really fun to cut loose and do something really whimsical and just have fun with what you’re doing.”

Perhaps inspired by her foray into the world of illustration, Nance recently left her job at the New York Times to pursue her master’s degree, which she hopes could lead to a teaching job in the future.

For now though, Nance is working to promote her latest project. She’ll be signing copies of “Rudy the Rude Rooster” from 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesday at Empire Book and News in Huntington, W.Va.’s Pullman Square.