Author Feature: Leslie A. Davidson

In the Red Canoe by Leslie A. Davidson and illustrated by Laura Bifano

#TuesdayTalk with Leslie A. Davidson. Her picture book, In the Red Canoe, is on shelves now!

Tell us your name, your book’s title and a bit about your book.

In the Red Canoe follows fish and herons, turtles and dragonflies, beaver lodges and lily pads as the child-narrator and her loving grandpa travel through nature. Baby ducklings ride their mama’s back; an osprey rises with a silver fish clutched in her talons; a loon cries in a star-flecked night. Rhythmic, rhyming quatrains carry the story forward in clean paddle strokes of evocative imagery.

What was the catalyst for your story?

When I first met my husband, Lincoln, I was attracted by his gentle, free spirit, his very cool VW camper and the red canoe on top. Our first holiday together was a 2 week long canoe trip through the Bowron Lakes. I was smitten by the man, the van and the red canoe. As we raised our children camping and canoeing became huge pieces of our lives. A few years ago, longing for grandkids, I imagined the day when Lincoln would share the canoeist’s eye view of the world with little ones, the same way he had with his own daughters. I wrote the first draft of the book, during one of our last camping/canoeing trips, not knowing at the time that Lewy-Body Dementia was stealing our bright, capable, nature-loving, adventuring husband, dad and grandpa from us. I am so grateful that this simple little expression of small wonders is being published, as a memory of what was, what might have been — and what I hope will be.

What was it like to see your story come alive visually?

Amazing! Nothing short of amazing. Laura has never met my husband but the grandpa in the boat is enough like Lincoln to stop my heart and the little girl could be our older daughter, Sarah. Laura’s style is rich and whimsical, a little romantic and completely enchanting.

What was your favourite book as a child and why?

My favourite picture book was The Water Babies though picture books did not play a big role in my reading life. I came to them as a parent and a teacher. I cut my reading teeth on The Bobbsey Twins and quickly progressed to Little Women and Anne of Green Gables. My favourite all-time picture book is Miss Rumphius, for its beauty in word and picture, and its message.

In your opinion, what makes a compelling story?

A truthful one, not necessarily a factual one. There has to be some strong emotional investment, humour, heartbreak, healing, love, joy….

Does your book have a niche or specialty market?

Hmmm….anyone wanting to take a break from our tech-driven world and be reminded of the possibility of deep, natural joy for those who have the patience to wait and watch for the miracles of nature to reveal themselves.

Do you gravitate toward a certain genre or type of writing? Why?

I seem to be writing a lot of creative non-fiction these days, as a way of coming to terms with this long slow loss of my husband and the challenges I face with Parkinson’s Disease. For kids, I find I write about relationships between the old and the young, though that has never been my intention.

What types of conversations do you hope will come out of your book?

I would love to think that adults who read it to the children in their lives will find ways to bring those kids into the wild, untouched places where such lovely things can be witnessed. I hope children will see a world that exists beyond the ever-present screens in their lives, and one that attracts them.

Tell us a little known or interesting fact about yourself.

My first book will be launched just days before my 65th birthday. It took me a lot longer than Jo March or Anne Shirley to realize the dream, but I will get that moment when I hold it in my hands, too.

 

Leslie Davidson, authorLeslie A. Davidson has always been a writer, though it wasn’t until retirement that she finally found time for the stories that tapped on her consciousness throughout years of teaching and parenting. Leslie’s writing celebrates the things that matter most to her: family, friendship and the natural world. In the Red Canoe is her first picture book. Leslie and her husband live in Revelstoke, British Columbia, where three young grandchildren inspire her and fill her days with joy. For more information, visit www.leslieadavidson.com.

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