Girdwood resident Daryl Pederson and his daughter, Amara, hold up the cover of their children’s book “A is for Alaska.” The self-published book comes out next week authored by 11-year-old Amara with photos by her dad.
By Julie St. Louis
Turnagain Times Correspondent
Girdwood resident Amara Pederson, age 11, is off to an early start as a children’s book author. With the help of her professional photographer father, Daryl, they produced an alphabet picture book representing truly Alaskan items and qualities from A to Z.
“A is for Alaska” is due out next week. From concept to publication, the timeframe has been incredibly quick – just under six months. The Pedersons are self-publishing their book, and Daryl says Amara has been involved in researching and understanding the entire process from concept to completion.
The book idea came to Amara this past February while she was vacationing in Hawaii with her mother, father and older sister. She approached her parents with the idea of writing a book for children. “First I thought something about Hawaii, because we were there,” said Amara, “but we all talked and realized it should be about Alaska since that’s were we live.”
Daryl said that combining his photos with her words and the alphabet seemed a natural. “All kids learn the alphabet, and people help them by reading,” he said. “The book will help children learn their letters, but it’s also informative on our state.”
For example in the book, “V” is for volcano, followed by text that tells readers that there are 130 volcanoes in Alaska. Next to this tidbit is one of Daryl’s images of a sunset over Mount Redoubt Volcano.
Amara did all the research herself at the library and by looking through her father’s extensive digital stock photo catalog. Amara thought of most of the letters and their corresponding representations. Others were brainstormed as a family. Amara wrote all of the text. “X and Z were hard ones,” she said. “I had help coming up with “Z”. The answer? That will require reading the book.
“Unfortunately the printing was delayed, and it won’t be available till after Forest Fair,” said Daryl. “But we’ve got plans for book signings in the community and throughout Alaska. For the first printing they have ordered 2,000 copies. The Pedersons are optimistic that they will need to order more before Christmas.
“We had great feedback from the printer,” said Daryl. “We were going to print it as a soft cover to save costs, but they liked it so much they offered to cover an upgrade to hardcover.”
As for plans for a second book, Amara says she doesn’t have any ideas for another just yet. “I just really want people to read this one,” she said. Her father added, “I’d like to sell out of this one first.”
Amara’s mother, Julie, currently home schools Amara and her sister. Amara’s other interests include soccer and volleyball, and of course reading.
Daryl has been a professional photographer for 30 years, and runs D&M Photo and Portrait Studio in Anchorage. His photos have been published in National Geographic, and many Alaskan publications.