written by Monica Devine, illustrated by Mindy Dwyer
In Kayak Girl, a young child learns to cope with serious loss through the keen love of her grandfather’s hand and heart. After Jana’s mother dies, she becomes withdrawn and uninterested in playing outside with her friends, and helping her father catch fish for the family. Her grandfather, a carver, pays Jana a visit and carves a figure of a girl in a kayak. He asks Jana to promise to go down to the river, everyday, and watch for Kayak Girl after he releases her into the water from his village far upriver.
Grandfather carved a long, skinny boat with a girl inside. Let’s call her, “Kayak Girl.”
Through the following seasons, Jana goes to the river daily and finds strength in the positive memories from her short time with her mother, even as she imagines the distant kayak girl’s struggles. After many trials, Jana and Kayak Girl are reunited, and Jana’s spirit is revived. Throughout the book, watercolor illustrations take readers to a magical place along an Alaska river and demonstrate the power of memory and a sense of place in the natural world.