Amazing Alabama

Murray to share coloring book of the state at Read Alabama Tuesday

By NICOLE SMITH, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 2/4/18

Graphic designer Laura Murray will pay a special visit to Jasper Tuesday to kick off the 25th season of Read Alabama, where she will share a coloring book that appeals to children and adults alike.

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Amazing Alabama

Murray to share coloring book of the state at Read Alabama Tuesday

Posted

Graphic designer Laura Murray will pay a special visit to Jasper Tuesday to kick off the 25th season of Read Alabama, where she will share a coloring book that appeals to children and adults alike.

Murray, who lives in Auburn, will discuss her coloring book, “Amazing Alabama: A Coloring Book Journey Through Our 67 Counties.” Not only does Walker County have a special tribute in the book, but all of Alabama’s 67 counties are featured through a series of drawings to represent unique landmarks across the state.

A native of Georgia, Murray traveled to Alabama in 2016 to attend the Alabama Book Festival. While she was browsing crafted novels and historical works by local authors, Murray was also in search of a coloring book that was specific to Alabama.

“I’ve always loved coloring books,” Murray said during a phone interview with the Daily Mountain Eagle last week. “Ever since I was a little girl I’ve loved to collect them. When my husband and I go on vacations or if we go on trips, I collect coloring books.”

Murray was disappointed, however, to discover that she couldn’t find a coloring book to feature Alabama at the festival. After some thought, she decided to put her graphic design skills to use and create a coloring book of Alabama.

She started working on the 80-page coloring book in May 2016, and it took her roughly 10 months to complete all of the drawings for the book and over a month to write descriptions of each Alabama county. Murray traveled to some Alabama counties herself to find landmarks to sketch, and some of her friends even sent photos of places to include in the coloring book. Each page features three to six drawings from each county and a paragraph of its history.

Murray said there’s also an index and a fun twist to the book.

“You can make your own epic Alabama road trip and color the counties in as you drive or you can color the counties in as you color that page in the book,” she said.

NewSouth Books of Montgomery published the coloring book in November of last year, and Murray has visited schools and other groups since then to share her work. She said the coloring book is suitable for children and adults.

“The images border on adult coloring. Obviously kids can color them too, but some of the stuff is really small, so it really needs to be paid attention to, to color it properly. That being said, coloring is all about experimenting and using your imagination, so you can do whatever you like with it,” she said.

Murray said the most fascinating part of the information-gathering process was learning about peculiar items and destinations across the state. One such landmark she found interesting is the Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard, which was established in 1937, and is located seven miles west of Tuscumbia in Colbert County. Coon dogs are buried at the cemetery — under a strict set of guidelines — and it’s the only cemetery of its kind in the world.

Far south in Coffee County, Murray came across a bizarre monument dedicated to the boll weevil, a pest that plagued Alabama cotton farmers in the early 1900s.

“I found out that the boll weevil monument is the only monument in the United States erected to a pest, but it’s not the only one in the world,” she said. “There’s one in Vienna that was erected in the 1600s, and it memorializes the plague.”

Currently Murray is working on a coloring book to feature Georgia’s 159 counties while she continues a small book tour in Alabama. She will present her coloring book at Read Alabama this Tuesday, Feb. 6, at 4 p.m. at Bevill State Community College in Jasper. Refreshments will be served at 3:30 p.m., followed by the program, in Mathews Lecture Hall of the Wade Math and Science Building.

Murray will be selling the coloring book at a cost of $10, and she will also sign books before and after her presentation. When reflecting on the journey of writing “Amazing Alabama,” Murray said she’s happy she could contribute to Alabama’s history in a format that all people can enjoy.

“I think a book like this is important. It makes Alabama history approachable,” she said. “I’m not going to sit there and tell people that I know everything about Alabama history, because I don’t. I’m sure everybody in the audience is going to know more than I do, but I can make it approachable and fun, and if this gets one additional person to get interested in our history, then I’ve done my job.”

More about Murray’s career can be found on her website, www.lauramurraycreative.com.