I’m so thrilled to wish Jessixa Bagley a very happy pub day for her debut book, BOATS FOR PAPA. I met Jessixa at SCBWI NY in 2013; that was the first conference I attended with my agent hat on after nearly ten years on the other side of the desk at Simon & Schuster. Jessixa came to my session, politely introduced herself and struck up a conversation. She was a runner-up in the Illustrator Showcase and submitted a dummy called Drift to me after the conference. I opened it and was immediately drawn into the world of Buckley, a young beaver who creates increasingly intricate boats to send to his absent and much missed Papa. And she made me cry. Tears-streaming-down-my-face cry. I sold the book to the brilliant and wonderful Neal Porter. Neal, Jessixa and the incredible art director, Jennifer Browne, made that beautiful book even more beautiful and today as BOATS FOR PAPA sets out into the world, I couldn’t be prouder.
Jessixa was this week named a Publishers Weekly Spring 2015 Flying Start. And her book has received FOUR(!) starred reviews. Here’s what the critics are saying:
“The only thing better than this title for anyone who has experienced loss is the redemptive nature of time.”—School Library Journal
“Reassuring, consoling, and lovely.”—Booklist
“Heartbreaking and hopeful, innocent and wise, a gentle story about healing and finding connection—both in the past and present.”—Kirkus
“A deeply empathic story with an accomplished sense of place. In beautiful tones of blue and brown, she immerses readers in the coastal world where Buckley and his mother are trying to make sense of their lives.”—Publishers Weekly
For more of Jessixa’s artwork, check out her website or follow her on twitter @jessixabagley. She’s posted a new drawing of a different boat everyday this month and they’re all fantastic. Her next book, Before I Leave, is coming from Neal Porter books in February 2016. Congratulations, Jessixa!