Louisville woman illustrates Dolly Parton’s next children’s book

Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton(AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Published: Jan. 6, 2023 at 10:05 AM CST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A Louisville illustrator for children’s books has an exciting new project.

She’s drawing for Dolly Parton’s new book for kids. MacKenzie Haley has been working nonstop in her Crescent Hill studio, bringing Billy the Kid, the French bulldog, to life. He’s Dolly Parton’s God-dog.

”I’ve never met Dolly,” Haley said. And I have no idea if I will. It’s kind of strange because I’m so isolated in my little studio to me, it almost doesn’t feel like a reality.”

Parton’s book is about Billy, who hopes to make it big as a country star in Nashville.

Haley has been working much more than nine to five on the images, getting it done in less than six months when typically, she has two years.

”I’m really excited,” she said. “I think it’s a great message about anti-bullying. And I respect Dolly as a human person so much. If there was one celebrity, I’m so glad it’s her.”

Haley fell in love with art at Presentation Academy and studied illustration at the University of Dayton. She has more than a dozen children’s books to her name.

Haley said this one was a little more pressure because of the fast deadline, and the cat owner and lover had to master drawing dogs. She was sent some specific pictures.

”What also helps is he has his own Instagram account with 40,0000 or 50,000 followers,” MacKenzie said.

After loose sketches, she perfects the characters, then lays out the book, scanning the images into her computer.

”Then I do what’s called ink work,” Haley said, coloring in those pictures.

One of the more difficult illustrations was that of Dolly herself.

”We went through several revisions, like five, which you don’t really do quite that many to get it right we needed to do that,” Haley said.

With her part of the project wrapped, now she waits until Dolly Parton’s Billy the Kid Makes It Big comes out in April.

Some could also say Haley is making it big.

”It’s going to be surreal I think,” Haley said.

Haley doesn’t know if she will get to meet Dolly. But she hopes there might be a future book signing, so she’ll have the chance.

By the way, Dolly also started Imagination Library, which gets free children’s books into the hands of children.

WAVE News helped bring Imagination Library to parts of Louisville. To see if your child can get free books from birth through the age of five, click here.