There are over a hundred species of snails in Jackson County, Alabama; the city of Fort Payne in DeKalb County, Alabama, is nicknamed the “Official Sock Capital of the World;” millions of years ago, a giant meteorite crashed less than five miles away from what is now the town of Wetumpka in Elmore County, Alabama.
These are a few facts, among many, that readers of local author Laura Murray’s latest book, “Amazing Alabama: A Coloring Book Journey Through Its 67 Counties,” know after reading.
The coloring book consists of a separate page for each county, all illustrated with depictions of famous sites, landscapes, history and people — as well as a brief description of the county and its history at the bottom of the page.
Murray, a Georgia native, graduated from Columbus State University with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts with an emphasis in graphic design. She worked as a professional graphic designer and printmaker for over 15 years at several different companies before moving to Auburn.
“Doing a book was really a culmination of over 15 years of skill,” Murray said. “It is a different way to use your skills, but it used every single one.”
Murray said it was during her previous trip to the annual Alabama Book Festival in Montgomery with her husband that inspired her to write “Amazing Alabama.”
“I always like to pick up [a coloring book] if I’m at a museum or a gift shop because it’s something different,” she said. “So I was on a mission to find an Alabama one, and there wasn’t.”
Instead of accepting a world without an Alabama coloring book, Murray drew up a handful of rough drafts and sent them to a publisher in Montgomery.
The publisher emailed her back almost immediately and said they loved it, and the two scheduled a meeting, which shortly led to a book contract for Murray’s first book.
Murray started the book with some of the more distinctive counties that she was familiar with, such as Colbert County, because her dad had once told her about the Colbert Coon Dog Cemetery for deceased hunting dogs.
“I searched [online databases and encyclopedias] by county and read everything I could find out about the county,” Murray said of her usual research process. “Then I went to the National Register of Historic Places […] and also to the Alabama Register of Places that are mainly special to the people of Alabama.”
Besides the meditative benefits of coloring, Murray said “Amazing Alabama” is also a great source for education about the state of Alabama.
“This book is in perfect timing for kids going through Alabama history,” Murray said. “It’s perfect for fourth graders, but it’s also good for younger kids as their parents talk to them about the state, as well as older people who want to explore the state without leaving the comforts of their home.”
Readers can color and learn the history behind Toomer’s Corner in downtown Auburn, the Saturn rocket near the Alabama-Tennessee border, the state capital in Montgomery and many other parts of the state.
“Amazing Alabama” is available at many book stores in and around Auburn, including the Auburn Campus Bookstore.
Murray will be hosting an after-school coloring party Nov. 1 at The Local Market from 3-5 p.m. and a book signing on Nov. 11 at Books-A-Million in Opelika at 2 p.m.