The Bear in the Blueberry
This children’s book shows the interconnection of all things in nature in a fun way that is quintessentially Alaskan.
Can you see the bear in the blueberry?
The Book Launch
The book launch was November 1st. The local newspaper, the Juneau Empire did a story on me and my book. I was interviewed on two radio stations. Posters went up all over town. I requested blueberry treats from friends. Robin flew up from Seattle.
The First Sales
We signed books at the State Museum for First Friday and sold over one hundred books. The line was long and several friends approached me later in the Safeway parking lot, at the airport, in the dentist office and at the post office to buy my book. I sold nearly the entire first shipment of 1000 books in the first two months. I went on a “mini” Alaskan book tour to Gustavus, Haines, Tenakee Springs and Ketchikan. The owner of Parnassus Books in Ketchikan who had never met me before said about my book, “they see it, they buy it.”
Washington, Oregon and California
In late January I did another “mini” book tour. This time I traveled to Washington, Oregon and California. I went to towns where I had friends who used to live in Alaska. I read to preschoolers and kindergartners and in public libraries.
In San Francisco I did a joint song/book event in the city at Blackbird Book store with song writer and friend Charity Kahn. Together one sunny afternoon, (see photo) with guitar and ukulele we cranked out a song to go with the book.
A Special Book Reading by the Author
Here Linda Buckley reads her first children’s book, “The Bear in the Blueberry.” This book is about the inter-connectedness of all things. The sun, the rain, the earth and even the bear are in the blueberry. As one third grader said, “This is a circle story!!”
The Interconnection of All Things in Nature Inspired this Series of Alaskan Books
From Inspiration to Publication
Twenty years ago I heard a talk by zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. He held up a blank piece of paper and asked, “Can you see the logger in the paper?”
I couldn't see anything in the paper.
Then he asked, “Can you see the sun in the paper?”
I thought yes since the paper is made from trees and then need sun to grow.
“Can you see the rain in the paper? Can you see the forest in the paper? The entire universe is in the paper.”
At that moment I thought, “then the bear is in the blueberry.”
I was developing a program for families on mindfulness and wrote an article about the bear in the blueberry for a journal called "The Mindfulness Bell."
That was the beginning of it, and once Linda Buckley got started on the first book, it went from inspiration to publication.
The first book, “The Bear in the Blueberry,” was published in 2019. It was welcomed into the arms of Alaskan families and tourists as a new Alaska children's classic.
Then it was just a matter of time before a second book emerged. “The Humpback in the Herring,” was published in 2022.
Will there be a third book in the series? We shall see...
I wrote the first draft of this little book and asked my friend and neighbor, Alaskan artist Rie Munoz to illustrate the book. I love her whimsical water colors and could only imagine her art for my book. She declined due to macular degeneration. I was disappointed, and put the story in a box.
Years later through a mutual friend, I found Robin Robbins.
I "cold" called her in September 2018 and asked, "you want to do a children's book?" She said, "what's it about?" I told her it was about bears and blueberries. She replied, "aren't bears just a black blob on a piece of paper?" She was of course joking and for the next several months she painted beautiful bears and blueberries and even blueberry pancakes!! Now, I can't imagine anyone else but Robin doing the illustrations. Everyone loves her water colors.
Layout, Design and Science
I now had the text and the illustrations but I needed to have someone do the lay out. Sue Kraft, also an artist, agreed to do the design. It was her genius that created the cover, chose the font and turned the raw material into a book.
A local book store owner, Katrina, suggested I add "bear facts" in the back of the book. Those three pages of science have contributed to the success of the book.
The second book layout was done by Liorah Wichser, owner of Blue Tiger Studio. Liorah, formerly Heidi Stenson, grew up with my family in Juneau, but like many, moved away from Alaska. Now living in Spokane, WA, she had to collaborate with me on the book remotely. Not that the distance was a unique problem, because everyone was social distancing anyway. We produced the Humpback in the Herring during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Everyone was using Zoom for meetings at the time!
Printing & Proofing
Local photographer, Mark Kelley, recommended Friesens in Manitoba for the printing. They are a sustainable press using soy ink and doing exceptionally professional work. The end product is a beautiful 7.5X7.5 book with paper over cardboard that feels soft and comfortable in your hands. Young children can easily take the book with them to bed!
For the "Bear in the Blueberry," the proofing process went into the summer and once I got into the print queue, my delivery date was pushed to late October. I had anticipated getting the books in time for our busy tourist season. Instead, they arrived in time for the holiday season.
The Humpback in the Herring was printed in March of 2022. But communications were strained with everyone working from different countries! While assembling the pre-press book files, I was in Palm Springs, FL, Liorah was on vacation in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico, and Freisens was in Manitoba, Canada! Somehow we made it all come together in time for the April launch date when the books were delived to Juneau, AK.
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