Finally, today is THE DAY!!! My twelfth book is real.

Ana and the Sea Star by R. Lynne Roelfs is published! It is a small miracle when ideas manifest into a real book. When I first read the manuscript in July of 2016, it felt authentic, the story of finding a starfish. My photo below is evidence of that time a sea star washed into a Peaks Island tide pool a summer ago, and was gently placed back in the ocean.

First I sketched out a rough storyboard, deciding what to show, the flow of the visuals, and varying points of view.

I contacted some island neighbors to model for me. The lovely Schuit family met me at Sandy Beach on Peaks Island on Labor Day weekend of 2016. I read them the story and watched their daughter, Zoe, effortlessly become the character of Ana. With multiple photo references, I made a rough dummy to send to Tilbury House. It took two, in fact. I drew from a sea star from my collection of nature objects that also appeared in Seven Days of Daisy many years ago.

By the time I began final illustrations, I had piles of photos, sketches, and pastels on hand.

Photographs are handy, but imagination had to kick in, just like for Ana, when envisioning the sea star’s journey underwater.

I made numerous cover sketches; this one was chosen by the publisher. I mocked up the title with my own lettering.

This is the final illustration.

In early February of 2017, I shipped off the originals just as a storm was due to hit the Maine coast, crossing my fingers. When the box of books arrived 8 months later, I eagerly photographed them on a glorious October day in their natural habitat.

This past Saturday, I kicked off the 11th Family Literacy Fun Day in Windham with a showcase of other Maine authors and illustrators . After sharing a presentation on my work and process, I met some great kids curious about picture books.

I had a crew of boys very intent on trying the sanded paper I use, as well as the pastels and pencils from my stash of supplies.

Lucas-James Renaud, a fourth grader, asked me to show him how I began. I started a rough sketch of Ana, and he then drew in her legs and the entire background, with a beach, clouds, seagulls, and so much detail. Wow! Nice illustration, Lucas! He has my favorite blues down.

I managed to catch the final presenter, the wonderful book artist, Rachel E. Church. She showed us her many methods of printmaking and various forms of book binding. When she pulled out her handmade accordion book, titled The Blue Book: A History of Cyanotype and the Book, we ALL swooned. Look at the seaweed splashing across the pages! Ana would just dive in.

Thanks to Windham Raymond Adult Education for hosting me.

A celebration and book launch for Ana and the Sea Star will be on November 18 at the Peaks Island Branch Library. The event will be in their temporary home at the Peaks Island Elementary School.

Or if you can’t sail the seas, come to Portland’s PRINT: a bookstore for their Children’s Book Holiday Mingle on Dec. 10. I want to meet you!





  1. Jamie,
    You’re fantastic!
    Can’t wait to see it.
    A baker’s dozen!
    Wow-wonderful !!!

    • thanks for your enthusiasm Gunnel! Your support means the world to me.

  2. Thank you Jamie. It is always so interesting to see some of your process. I am sorry I will be out of town on the 18th, but I may make it on December 10.

    • Monica, Thanks for reading and commenting! I look forward to seeing you whenever it works for you, even just coming up to the house.

  3. So excited to hold this book in my hands! The author is one of our Library Assistants here in the Olathe School District in Olathe, Kansas. Your artwork is AMAZING!!

    Nancy Clewell
    Library Assistant
    Scarborough Elementary
    Olathe, Kansas

    • Nancy, thanks for writing! I am so pleased you have Ana and the Sea Star! Lucky you to have R. Lynne Roelfs in your in your library! Cheers, and here’s to getting her book into many, many hands! Jamie

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