GRINNELL, IOWA — Anyone who has lived in Ithaca for several years will likely remember Ryan McGuire’s fun public art around Ithaca, like the banana-pillar with legs or the 13-foot “might balloon” tugging a light post by The Chanticleer. He could also be spotted in his 1971 Volkswagen Beetle that resembled a stegosaurus.

McGuire recently brought his whimsical art style to the realm of children’s books, with “Flies and Carrots,” geared toward young children. It’s filled with rhymes, alliteration and charming illustrations.

McGuire is originally from Ithaca but moved to Grinnell, Iowa, in 2016 with his wife who he met in Ithaca. Though he does sell some of his artwork, his primary income comes from his graphic design and website design business, Bells Design. McGuire, who considers himself an “anti-procrastinator,” said he began wondering if he could create his own children’s book after volunteering at his local library to read to preschoolers.

“I got really excited. I wondered if I could write a kids’ book and this might be a fun project I could read at story time, as well as read to our baby,” McGuire said. McGuire and his wife have a two-month old baby girl, Bella.

Baby Bella. (Provided by Ryan McGuire)

Being an anti-procrastinator, it only took McGuire (a very busy) six weeks to finish the book. He worked with Blair Gauntt, who created the illustrations.

“Flies and Carrots” follows the tale of a hungry rabbit that wants to eat like a frog, but after many mishaps gives up and ends up becoming friends with a fly, the same fly he was trying to eat. “Ribbit Ribbit Rabbit, look a fly, quickly! Grab it!” Kids reading along can interact with the story by tracing the fly’s path through the book. The book is geared toward young children, about to up age six.

A look inside “Flies and Carrots” by Ryan McGuire. (Provided Photo)
A look inside “Flies and Carrots” by Ryan McGuire. (Provided Photo)

Like any of his other projects, McGuire said his motivation for the book was to make people smile.

“I wear bells, drive funny cars,” McGuire said. “I like for everyone when they experience my art, I just want them to kind of walk away a little happier.”

So far the book has been a hit with kids. After reading his story at the library, he said he had kids buzzing like flies along with the story and they even requested a re-read.

Ryan McGuire reads his book to children at the Drake Community Library in Grinnell, Iowa. (Provided photo)

In addition to entertaining kids with his book and readings at his local library in Iowa, McGuire is also benefiting the community by donating profits from the book to the Food Bank of Iowa. He said he recently made his first donation of $85, which will help buy hundreds of meals for children.

“Flies and Carrots” is not currently available locally but can be purchased on his website for $9.95.

Asked if there are more children’s books in his future, McGuire said this one may turn into a small series.

For more information, visit fliesandcarrots.com.

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at koconnor@ithacavoice.com and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.