When 8-year-old Winnie Bourquin’s father picked her up from school, some of her friends were scared.

At 39, Ryan Bourquin’s body is covered in tattoos, from his knuckles to chest. Then there’s the fact that, as a weightlifter, he’s built like a truck.

“They were afraid and they sometimes used to hide,” Winnie told CTV Calgary.

In truth, Ryan -- a trained chef -- is hardly scary. Winnie wanted to create a book to show her classmates that, when it comes to people like her dad, appearances are only skin deep.

The father and daughter sat down one day to write the book for fun. Ryan planned to publish one copy that he could give to his daughter as a gift.

But when a friend read it, he insisted that it had serious potential.

“He read it and got back to me the next day and said he loved the concept. He said, you know, there’s nothing out there like this and the message is so strong that you should consider submitting it,” he said.

The idea landed him a book deal for “Big Bad Dad,” a 30-page illustrated book for kids. The story has been so popular, it’s already sold out on Amazon -- twice.

According to the publisher, the story follows a tattooed dad with “big muscular arms and a giant puffy body” who likes to ride around in a big black truck. But the dad also has a softer side, as demonstrated in his relationship with his daughter, Violet.

Ryan says the story was inspired by a lesson he’s learned first-hand over the last decade: everyone has a story.

“When you meet somebody for the first time, you don’t know what kind of walk of life they’ve come from and what they’re all about, and that’s kind of what the book is,” he said.

To promote the book, Ryan dressed up in a Snow White costume and signed books at a Chapters in Calgary. Winnie wore a matching dress for the occasion.

Ryan says he’s gotten plenty of attention for the new book – and his fashion choices.

“We’ve been out grocery shopping and I had somebody come up and be like, ‘Are you the dad in the dress?’ And I’m like, ‘Yup.’”

With files from CTV Calgary