Mother and daughter collaborate on children’s book with a message

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo A mother and daughter team – illustrator Genevieve Clarke, left, and writer Andrea Clarke – hold their new children's book The Lonely Flower.

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
A mother and daughter team – illustrator Genevieve Clarke, left, and writer Andrea Clarke – hold their new children’s book The Lonely Flower.

A mother and daughter have teamed up to collaborate on a children’s picture book with a story of encouragement for anyone who might feel different.

The book – The Lonely Flower – was written by Andrea Clarke of Hay River and illustrated by her mother, Genevieve Clarke of Enterprise.

Andrea said the book has its origins about 11 years ago in a story she told to a young relative, who has cerebral palsy.

“It was just after he started school and he was feeling bad about being different from the other kids,” she recalled. “So off the top of my head, I told him this story to make him feel better.”

She recalls that, when she got to the end of the story, she watched the boy – six years old at the time – get so excited when the flower in the story got a friend and grew up all big and pretty.

“It’s kind of an ugly duckling story,” she explained. “The little flower’s smaller than the rest and all twisty and colours aren’t as bright, and the other flowers are mean to her because of it. And then a fluffy cloud comes flowing by in the sky and sees the little flower looking so sad and asks what’s wrong, and the flower explains it and says. ‘I just wanted to have a friend.’ Hence the cloud becomes her friend and comes and visits her every day, crying rain when they talk about the sadness and cheering her up. And at the end all the rain helps her to grow.”

Genevieve Clarke was impressed by her daughter’s story.

“I loved it,” she said. “I’m a big fan of her writing for ages. She’s a great poet and her book that she’s working on now it just blows me away, makes me cry at times.”

That is a young adult novel that Andrea is working on it with a friend in Edmonton.

Genevieve noted The Lonely Flower can help children in a number of difficult situations, including if they’re being bullied.

“It shows that a lot of children in that situation will try to do stuff so that they’re acceptable to these bullies, just like the little flower in the story does different things to try to get bigger but none of it works, of course,” she said.

Andrea also believes it can help young people.

“It has the idea that, even if you have a problem that seems insurmountable, just sharing it with a friend can be a big help,” she said.

The Lonely Flower is the first book for the mother and daughter, and that is an exciting accomplishment for both.

“It was just amazing to see something that had once existed solely in my head actually on paper in front of me with an ISBN number and copyright info and everything,” said the 30-year-old Andrea.

The Lonely Flower was self-published with a $5,000 grant from the NWT Arts Council.

The soft-cover book arrived from the printer just after Christmas, and is now on sale at NWT Centennial Library and Ring’s Pharmacy.

Andrea and Genevieve are also planning a trip before March to promote the book in Edmonton and will be promoting it around the NWT in the summer.

They say the book is especially suitable for ages three to eight years.

A book launch and signing will be held at NWT Centennial Library on Jan. 21, beginning at 3 p.m.

Andrea Clarke will also be reading from the work.

–Paul Bickford