Kayak Girl: University of Fairbanks Alaska

New release from Snowy Owl Books, imprint of the University of Alaska Press Fairbanks! Launched in 1967, the University of Alaska Press is a nonprofit scholarly publisher and distributor of books about Alaska and the circumpolar regions. Kayak Girl is my first book with UAP and with author, Monica Devine.


Her story is about Jana, a young girl learning to cope with the death of her mother. She becomes withdrawn and unresponsive to her grandfather’s love. He devises a strategy that allows Jana to focus on something larger than herself.  Watercolor illustrations take you to a magical place along an Alaska river. Through the power of memory and the changing cycles in nature, Jana transcends her grief and emerges renewed in the spring.

Jana watches Grandfather carveGrandfather carves Jana a wooden doll and calls it the Kayak Girl. Here is my sketch of Jana watching him carve. He brought her a set of carving tools of her very own, but she is not interested in learning. Jana used to like to paint rocks and pick flowers but nothing sounds fun anymore. She is just too sad.

The illustrations in this book were done in watercolor on Arches 140# Cold Press. I am fond of the Daniel Smith watercolor line as well as certain colors in the Winsor Newton series. I trace the drawing onto the watercolor paper with a light table to get clean crisp outlines. To see grandfather and the finished doll in color click here.

The resiliency of a child’s spirit and the power of nature will uplift readers in this Alaskan story.


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