Art student creates children’s book about Chaska Fire Department pheasant

Art studios are often incubators for creativity and imagination. But the media arts lab at PiM Arts High School in Eden Prairie has helped one student focus her creativity on bringing a unique story to life.

"This is a real life story about a pheasant who is helping firefighters through COVID and talking with his friends and building a community," said senior Bird Filreis.

Her story is now a children’s book she created for her final graduation capstone project.

"The title of the book is ‘The Fire Truck and Fill-Up,’" said Filreis as she poured through the pages of the book she wrote and illustrated.

Fill-Up is a name Chaska volunteer firefighters and public works employees gave to a rather curious ring-necked pheasant who lived near the public works grounds. Firefighters say the bird used to chase its fire engines every time they’d come to the yard to fill up with fuel. So, they named it Fill-Up.

"It is absolutely a true story," said Bird’s mother Stephanie Filreis, a Chaska volunteer firefighter. "Sometimes we let him know we're coming as we pull in, and we toot toot the horn, ring the bell, and he comes running."

Stephanie would come home and tell her family about Fill-Up, not knowing at the time it would become the premise for a book by her daughter meant to teach children about overcoming the COVID pandemic and other challenges in their lives.

"Fill-Up is a character that is meant to inspire and enlighten and bring joy," said Bird.

The book is one of the dozens of unique capstone projects the seniors at PiM Arts High School created for their gallery showcase at the school. Her media arts teacher, John Raasch was particularly impressed with all of the students’ projects, but noted how Bird chose to use her project as a gift.

"Bird has all of this artistry that they developed over the four years that they were here, and they chose to have their art in service of something beyond themselves," said Raasch. "I think being able to take that focus and take that talent and skills that you have and give that to others is a really remarkable gift to be able to do with your art."

The book is available on Amazon here

For Bird, this is not the end of her art studies. She’s been accepted to Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) starting in the fall of 2023.