Children’s book project takes on renewed life

A former Dawson Creek school teacher and artist has completed a long-standing project she says was originally influenced by her daughter.

Mary Parslow has written a children’s book, If I Could Go To Work With My Dad, a story that centres around her grandson and his father, who was away from home quite a bit working as a contractor in the oil patch.

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Parslow says it was her daughter, Joanna, whom she lost to cancer in 2012, that put the wheels in motion, and encouraged her 16 years ago to create the drawings for the newly published book.

“It was her idea when her little boy (Brandon) was seven. I just wanted to carry forward and finish it off. She kept saying ‘Mum, you need to do the illustrations,’ so I finally did,” Parslow said at her book launch June 28 at Peace Gallery North. “So, it’s her idea, her concept. I took the photographs that she gave me, some of the text we worked on together and made it into verse, and I did the illustrations. So, this is her and I together.”

As the book title suggests, If I Could Go To Work With My Dad is “about this little guy who misses his Dad, really badly,” said Parslow. Working some 12 hours north of their home in Grimshaw, her son-in-law, Lynsey, would be away for two weeks and then come home for a week.

Seeing some of the anguish in her son, Parslow said Joanna approached her with the idea. “She said, ‘You know, people need to know what it’s like to be a family that works in the oil and gas industry, and their dads go off. There isn’t a book out there for kids, like ours, so let’s do it, Mum’.”

Parslow says the book not only focuses on her then seven-year-old grandson, but is geared towards someone with a Grade 2 reading level. In the next few weeks, Parslow hopes to have it showcased in libraries and school libraries throughout the region.

As for the true-to-life story itself, Parslow admits that some slight changes were made in the book versus the main character’s real life.

“I cheated a bit. In the story, he’s seven and he doesn’t (in real life) have any sisters then, but I moved the sisters up a bit.” said Parslow.

Brandon, who is now 23, and recently graduated with a degree in criminal justice from the University of the Fraser Valley, does, in fact, have two sisters — Miya, 16, and Jasmine, 14. For the purpose of the book, though, they’re closer in age in their roles.

Now retired, Parslow, a former educator who majored in art at university, says she is now able to devote more time to a recently-found love — print making. In the last couple of years, Parslow has been able to make friends and connections with Edmonton’s arts community, and has resulted in a new exhibit which opened June 28 in Fort St. John.

Titled Ex Libris, it’s a joint collaboration with Sara Norquay from Edmonton, whom Parslow credits with helping her to develop her artistry.

The show runs until July 26 at Peace Gallery North. 

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