More than 100 people gathered at the Williams Lake Library Saturday morning for the book launch of debut author Willie Sellars and first-time illustrator Kevin Easthope’s children’s book Dipnetting With Dad.
Kevin and Willie, who forged their friendship a few years back fighting wildfires together, took turns doing their first ever reading of the book to a public audience. They then fielded questions before finishing up with a book signing. The event was a huge success with 74 copies of the book sold. Sellars also brought his dipnet made by Lloyd Myers of Stone Reserve to the library to allow the youngsters a chance to handle it.
“I first started dipnetting with my dad when I was about seven years old and I’ll always remember the feeling of handling the fish and how slippery and heavy they were at the time,” said Sellars.
The book is described as: Set in the beautiful landscape of the Cariboo Chilcotin region, Dipnetting With Dad is a delightful and colourful story of a father teaching his son the Secwepemc method of fishing known as dipnetting.
The duo had plenty of praise from a number of local authors who offered up their support and expertise including Sage Birchwater, Chief Bev Sellars (Xat’sull) and Bonnie Forsythe.
Birchwater was the one who got them in touch with Caitlin Press who published the book and Bev Sellars, a cousin of Willie’s, offered a ringing endorsement which is on the back of the book.
“Willie’s great book took me back to my own days of fishing on the river … [His] detailed description of the process from ceremony to enjoying the final product is true to our culture. The Indigenous cultures have so much to share and this book contributes to that distribution of this knowledge,” said Bev.
Bev’s book They Called Me Number One, is one of four finalists for the 2014 Burt Award for First Nations, Metis and Inuit literature. The winner will be announced at a gala dinner in Winnipeg, Man. on Sept. 27 with the winner awarded $12,000 and a guaranteed order of 2,500 copies of their book to be published and distributed to young readers across Canada.
Last week Willie ran into acclaimed B.C. environmentalist David Suzuki on his bluedot tour in Vancouver. Sellars had his picture taken with Suzuki, who purchased a signed copy of the book.
“He (David) told me he was going to read the book to his grandson that night so that was really cool,” said Sellars. “He also said he was very impressed with the illustrations.”
Easthope said he spent on average 18 hours illustrating each page before the drawings were ready to scan. The process was expedited somewhat by Bev’s enthusiasm for the book. The illustrations were well worth the wait, as they truly bring the characters to life and jump off the page and transport the reader into their world.
“I felt like I was pushing Kevin along with a cattle-prod telling him to hurry up with the illustrations. I had read the book and was so excited for it,” said Bev.
Bev also noted how dipnetting is often done at night under the firelight, and thought a Dipnetting With Dad at Night would make a great sequel to the book. Dipnetting With Dad had 2,500 copies published and copies are available in hard cover for $16.95 locally at Save On Foods and the Open Book and online at www.amazon.ca.