I loved Jessixa Bagley’s debut picture book Boats for Papa (Roaring Brook Press) at first read. Seems like other folks agree with me, since both the Kirkus Review and the Boston Globe listed it among the best books of 2015!
Buckley, a lovable beaver, adores making wooden boats that he launches into the ocean in hopes they will reach his Papa. Coming in all shapes and sizes, the boats are like a lifeline to a long-lost parent. A heartwarming moment with Buckley’s Mama concludes the story, illuminating how healing always begins in our own backyards.
As a talented author-illustrator and parent herself, Jessica has cool things to say about creativity, compassion, and mommy-hood! Read on…
CSM: WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE BOATS FOR PAPA?
JB: The idea just sort of came to me, but it was very unconsciously inspired by my own childhood growing up in Oregon. My parents divorced when I was very young (and then my father passed away when I was 17). So my mom raised me and encouraged my artistic interests.
CSM: WHAT CAN YOUNG CHILDREN GAIN BY EXPLORING THE CONCEPT OF LOSS OF A YOUNG AGE?
JB: I think they can start to learn compassion and appreciation for who they have in their life. If a child already has personal connection to loss or absence, I hope that openly talking or reading about it will help them learn to express their feelings and not feel alone.
CSM: WHICH BOOKS COULD YOU RECOMMEND (BESIDES YOUR OWN!) TO PARENTS WISHING TO OPEN UP A CONVERSATION ABOUT LOSS WITH THEIR CHILD?
JB: The first thing that comes to mind is Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. It’s such a bittersweet story that I think handles death specifically with a lot of honesty in a very gentle way.
CSM: SHARE YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS AS AN AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR. WHAT COMES FIRST? THE PICTURES OR THE STORY?
JB: It depends. If I come up with a story idea, the pictures start quickly popping up in my head. Or sometimes I just fall in love with a character and I sketch them out, then I start to figure out who they are. Soon they are telling me their stories.
CSM: AS A MOTHER, ARE THERE WAYS YOU INVOLVE YOUR SON IN YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS? HOW DO YOU ENCOURAGE CREATIVITY IN HIM?
JB: I feel like it’s the other way around- he involves me in his creative processes! He’s still small, so the biggest thing I do is read to him a lot and let him explore toys and books on his own. Oddly, he’s naturally drawn to some of my favorite illustrators!
Jessixa Bagley is an author/illustrator who has been making her own picture books since she was 8 years old. She has a BFA in painting and printmaking and has worked as fine artist, comics creator and illustrator since 2002. Her comics have been in numerous publications ranging from The Chicago Reader and The Seattle Weekly to Nickelodeon Magazine. She has also been featured in New American Paintings for her fine art drawings. Her second picture book for Roaring Brook Press, Before I Leave, comes out February 2016. She lives in Seattle, WA with her loving husband and drooling son in a castle in the sky surrounded by books, fake food and miniature toys.
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