Writer and illustrator Dawn Baker hits another home run with her latest children’s book, telling the story of an adventure in bird rescue in Witless Bay
By Pam Pardy Ghent
Dawn Baker has long been celebrated as an artist with the ability to capture the culture and spirit of this province, but for 19 years now Baker has also been penning and illustrating captivating children’s books. From her brilliant A Newfoundland Alphabet to her touching take on a classic in Saltwater Joy, Baker has delivered the goods and then some to families everywhere.
Baker’s latest, The Puffin Patrol, tells the tale of two children, Susan and Ryan, who pitch in and help recuse and release baby puffins back into the ocean.
Baker had never rescued puffins before, though she’s long been fascinated by them. “Last year I did a new Christmas ornament that had two little puffins on it; one had a Santa hat on and another had a green scarf and there was a snowy scene and people responded to it so well. And I had seen the news stories about the Puffin Patrol and that happens in mid to late August and September but with everything I was involved with I couldn’t go but it was rolling around in my brain for a while.”
She also saw puffins at sea as well. “Once, my daughter and I – she was only little because she’s 25 now – we were in Trinity and we went on a whale watching tour. We didn’t see any whales but we saw lots of puffins and I was blown away. I couldn’t believe how small they were, how cute they were, how fast they were, and they did leave quite an impression.‘‘
When it was time to think of a book to create for this year, she thought back on The Puffin Patrol. She took to Google and found Suzanne Dooley, co-executive director at the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society in Newfoundland.
“We chatted and she allowed me to use anything that was on their Facebook or on their website (for inspiration) and she answered any questions I had,” explains Baker.
But while the details were important, she had to call on her inner child for inspiration as well.
‘‘I think part of my secret is I’ve never actually grown up. I love children’s books, I love illustrations, I love picture books. I’ve never lost touch with that young audience. And I think about parents too. Most of my books can be read out loud, slowly and carefully, in less than five minutes. That’s important.”
Baker, who’s now busy working on her 13th annual Christmas ornament, hopes this book resonates with young readers and their families.
“I wanted a very simple book for young readers, but I also wanted it to be a way to introduce them to ways to help nature. I wanted to show we can all, in our own small way, do our part to help. And helping makes you feel good. I try to fit in a lot in a small simple story and I think I’ve done that here.”
She certainly has. The book is a delightful, feel-grand read. Baker smiles at the praise, though she is quick to share some as well.
‘‘I’m not sure how to thank The Herald, you guys have been so supportive. Back in 1998 when my book, A Newfoundland Alphabet, came out, I still have a copy of The Newfoundland Herald where you guys did a story on it when that came out, and that was 19 years ago. I’m grateful. People, like you guys have been good to me and it’s allowed me to do this as a living. People who do what I do do it because they love it, and you have to make sure you thank those who help make that happen. So thank you!”
You are very welcome! It’s been our pleasure.
For more, follow Dawn Baker on Facebook or visit flankerpress.com