Homer children’s book author tackles illustration in latest ‘Fairies’ book

Homer artist and children’s book writer Sally Wills recently met with the Homer News to talk about her children’s book released earlier this year, “The Tackle Box Fairies,” a sequel to the “The Mason Jar Fairies.”

The first book, released in 2020, was illustrated by Wills’ daughter, Oceana Wills. The story, however, was composed several decades ago when Wills’ daughters were children. The second book, a sequel (though it can be read alone) was written before the first was published. The “Tackle Box Fairies” was also originally intended to be illustrated by Oceana but when she wasn’t able to accomplish that, Wills took it on herself with encouragement from her sister.

“It took awhile to get this one published because of the lack of pictures. Oceana was too busy, so I decided to take it on myself. I told myself I would do one picture and see how it looked. I used to love to draw, I just hadn’t done it for awhile,” she said.

The first picture in the book is a little girl sleeping with her cat with the window open to an Alaska summer. “It was so fun to imagine what would be in a little Alaskan girl’s bedroom — it was so much fun,” Wills said. The image has mobiles with kelp, sea stars, drift wood, feathers and glass balls, a colorful quilt, framed windows and an Alaska flag.

To illustrate the book, Wills just completed one drawing each day following the line of the story. Images include birch trees, mushrooms, colorful fairies, sea gulls, otters and other Alaska wildlife and nature images.

The book is dedicated to Wills’ sister, Susan, who was a major component of encouragement in illustrating the book herself. Susan recently passed away.

“When I would complete a picture for the story I would send it to her and see if she liked it. It was kind of a nice escape of feeling sad about her illness but also a very nice connection with her because she was a really good artist in Chicago.”

The first book doesn’t specifically indicate that it is set in Homer, but gives the impression that the setting is Southcentral Alaska. In the second book, the main characters start in the same place but take road trip north to Denali and there are several scenes of the Alaska Highway and the family camping along the way.

The book concludes with some brief information related to Denali National Park and the history of the ceremonial blanket toss.

The first book, “Mason Jar Fairies,” was set in the summer. “Tackle Box Fairies” is set in the fall. Now that Wills intends to write a few more, she intends to sequence the next two for winter and spring.

“I find story writing to be really enjoyable and I look forward to publication of the next ones,” she said.

The books can be purchased at the Homer Bookstore and the Old Inlet Book Shop. There are a few other independent book stores in Alaska where she has provided copies.