This morning, sorting through stuff I’ve had in storage for the past two years, I was surprised to discover a box full of bookmarks for my children’s book, Discovering Emily (a junior novel about the childhood of Canadian artist Emily Carr). I had no idea I still had all these bookmarks, and it is strange that they should resurface right at this moment. Only a few weeks ago, I found out that this book is no longer available in print, and I have to decide if I should ask for the rights back from the publisher and look for a new publisher, or possibly reprint the book myself. Are the bookmarks trying to tell me something?
Discovering Emily was originally published in 2004 by Orca (though, as with many of my books, the idea and research started several years earlier). I’ve had eight books for young people published now, but I continue to have a soft spot for this book because of my love for Emily Carr and her art and my admiration for the incredible spunk it took for a young woman in 19th century Victoria to go against the current and follow her dream of becoming an artist and painting in a way that had meaning to her. I first wrote the book because I wanted to show kids the person behind the dowdy-looking famous artist with a reputation for eccentricity. She was once a child just like them, who had fears and dreams, got into trouble, did things wrong, but kept trying and kept on being true to herself.
I was at a teachers’ conference this past Friday, and a few teachers came up to talk to me. Ironically, the one book they all mentioned using in their classrooms was Discovering Emily. I also have teacher friends who use this book every year. As one friend says, “[the character, Emily] inspired me to look for that spark in the kids I deal with every day.” Unfortunately, these anecdotes have not translated into enough on-going sales for my publisher to feel compelled to reprint the book again. Yet, I still feel there’s a spot for this book in primary classrooms and that there are children waiting to be inspired by the young Emily Carr.
Anyone out there have any thoughts on this book and what I should do? Are you a teacher who uses the book or would like to have the book in your classroom? If I reprint the book myself I may have to find a new illustrator (as well as figure out how to get the book into the hands of teachers, librarians, parents, and kids). Ideally, I’d like Orca to print the book again, as they still have the sequel, Emily’s Dream, available, and I still have all those matching bookmarks to give away!
If you’d like to encourage Orca to get the book back in print, you can contact the publisher, Andrew Wooldridge, at email@example.com.
[Note: on Orca’s website it says the book is “out of stock” rather than “out of print” because the book may still be available as an e-book.]
Past blog post about walking through Emily Carr’s old neighbourhood: In Emily Carr’s footsteps
Great website about Emily Carr: Emily Carr at Work and at Home
Downloadable teachers’ guide for Discovering Emily
P.S. Just discovered a Kindle edition is available (my first book available through Kindle, so kind of exciting –if I took back the rights to the book I could make it available through Kindle myself, but would have to redo the cover and art):