BANFF – Too often, adults can overlook the small steps that make up a journey as they push straight toward a grander stage.
A new children's picture book The Wonders That I Find reminds us to slow down and zig-zag around the little pleasures along the way like we once did.
“It’s the kind of book that kids will grow up with,” said the book's author and Banff's Meghan J. Ward.
Ward, well-known for her magazine and travel writings on mountain culture and outdoor adventures, said her newest project might seem a little random when compared to her previous work focusing to catch the eyes of adult readers.
But the lifelong poet said The Wonders That I Find, her first children's book with rhyming lines and wilderness hiking, has been a “natural progression” of everything she’s worked toward.
“I have two young children and when my oldest daughter was quite young, I had to re-learn how to enjoy my time in nature because I had been so ambitious before,” Ward said. “When you add kids into the mix, you're really forced to slow down, and I think of the process of learning through my own child is what inspired the story itself and it really felt quite natural for me.”
The Wonders That I Find 🌿 is all about slowing down and appreciating the small things — it’s a metaphor for life, really! 🤗 Perfect for ages 4-8. Get your copy now at https://t.co/Z4S4HFyavh.— Meghan J. Ward (@meghanjward) April 1, 2021
Published by the fab folks at @rmbooks pic.twitter.com/HKRCzC7bp5
In The Wonders That I Find, it follows young daughter Geneva and her parents as the trio explore a mountain trail on a summer day-hike. While trekking to the peak's scenic viewpoint, the curious little girl can’t help but slow down and get a closer look at the active ecosystem around her.
Perfect for ages four to eight, Ward's latest effort received immediate feedback from a main demographic as her young daughters. Mistaya and Léa, were some of mom's first readers – and fans.
“That was really cool,” said Ward. “They might not see the deeper lessons when they’re little; [but] they’ll still enjoy the story and the illustrations.”
As a strong believer in the healing powers of nature, Ward said the book’s message, which has a number of parallels between the child's perspective and the parents', has evolved in her mind since she first wrote it pre-COVID-19 pandemic.
The process of creating and publishing the children’s book, which was written as a full-length poem in one sitting, became a much-needed bright spot over the past year, Ward explained.
“The message of the book suddenly started to have much greater applications, especially this past year for me,” said Ward. “Just the idea of slowing down and appreciating the small things ... I thought it was interesting how this book that was written before COVID suddenly became very relevant, not just in terms of that message, but also this encouragement to get kids outside.”
Published in March 2021 by Rocky Mountain Books, Calgary-based illustrator, Taylor Odynski provided the colourful images for its expressive storytelling.
About five or six years ago, Ward thought of the idea for the children’s book, but it wasn’t until she met Odynski, whom she discovered an immediate chemistry with, that finally prompted the Banff writer to pursue it.
It was a unique process from start to finish, Ward said.
“[Odynski] had my perspectives from the illustrations from the get-go,” said Ward. “It was very refreshing and I really learned to appreciate how complex it is to put a children’s book together and how to tell stories visually in ways I've never really been involved in before.”
As her first leap into stories for children, Ward adored the process.
"When you have a project that just brings you so much joy and you know is going to bring so much joy to others, it just kind of became a little beacon on the horizon for me," said Ward. "Everything around it has this positive energy, so I've just really appreciated that aspect of it."
The Wonders That I Find can be ordered online at www.thewondersthatifind.com, or picked up locally at Canmore's Café Books and Banff's North Face store.
As a bonus, Ward offers virtual visits to libraries, schools and other children's programming. The book would be sent in advance of a presentation, which can be fine-tuned according to age and comprehension level.