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North Bay shutterbug uses wild chipmunks to star in her children’s book

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Linda Stoner loves photographing wildlife, especially chipmunks.

The retired wedding photographer from North Bay focused her lens instead of on the furry rodents, but in a special way.

“Taking the photographs was a lot of fun,” Stoner said while holding a photo of the chipmunk models.

This particular chipmunk was the first she took 10 years ago. The small mammal was trying to pry a treat out of a toy Tyrannosaurus rex’s mouth.

She published a children’s book in the spring called ‘Chippy’s Family Helping Others,’ where wild chipmunks scurried up on her hand-built sets and posed for photos.

“There were different chipmunks. Whoever was in the yard at the same time,” Stoner said.

“Often I would have two or three in the set at the same time.”

She used sunflower seed treats to lure them onto the set. Stoner said she would wait until the chipmunks were in the exact position she needed before snapping the photos.

It took a lot of patience -- and a tons of sunflower seeds.

“I have more bloopers than I have good photographs,” she laughed.

Linda Stoner loves photographing wildlife, especially chipmunks. The retired wedding photographer from North Bay focused her lens instead of on the furry rodents, but in a special way. (Eric Taschner/CTV News)

This particular chipmunk was the first Linda Stoner took 10 years ago. The small mammal was trying to pry a treat out of a toy Tyrannosaurus rex’s mouth.. (Eric Taschner/CTV News)

She estimated she took thousands of blooper photos to get the roughly 20 perfect photos she needed for her book.

“It takes a while. Sometimes it took days to get the chipmunk where I wanted it,” Stoner said.

“It also took a lot of seeds. I would sit there and laugh at the antics that the chipmunks would go through to the get the sunflower seeds. It became fun.”

The story follows Chippy the chipmunk, who introduces his family to the reader while showing the jobs and interests his chipmunk relatives have.

“This is Chippy,” she pointed to the photo of her main character in her story, the same chipmunk from the photo with the T. Rex.

She would purchase props for the sets at antique shops and second-hand stores. There’s a librarian chipmunk, one cruising down a country road in a toy car, a few checking out a fire truck and one who got his sea legs.

“Cousin Clarence, he takes others in his sailboat,” Stoner smiled, showing the photo of the animal on the boat looking into the horizon.

HER BOOK IS A HIT

Stoner was inspired by a woman on the East Coast who did something similar with red squirrels. The photos were taken out in the yards of Corbeil and Bonfield over an eight-year period. It took a further 10 months to publish her book with Friesen Press.

Her book become has become quite the hit. She’s sold copies to readers in the North Bay area, Sudbury, Muskoka, Toronto and Ottawa.

“I’ve been doing farmer’s markets and fall fairs. I’ve been to some craft shows and I’ve been to some libraries,” she said.

Stoner also attended Christmas craft sales and she will be at one coming up on Dec. 3 at the Callander Community Centre.

She’s now thinking of new ideas for future projects and while it was an artistic challenge, it’s one she’s gone ‘nuts’ for.

To learn more, you can visit her website.

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