Some of PK’s most accomplished and popular works have been her writings for children in the form of stories, poems, plays and songs. PK was interested in children and their perception of the world throughout her career. (For a few examples among many, see the poems “The Bands and the Beautiful Children,” “The First Part,” “Only Child,” “Stefan” and “Young Girls.”) But her books for children all date from late in her career.
Her earliest children’s book to be published was A Flask of Sea Water (1989), based on a story she made up for her grandchildren; her last – and her last work of all to be published – was Uirapurú, which appeared in 2010, shortly after her death. In the interim she published a further eight books for children.
PK’s essay “Fairy Tales, Folk Tales: The Language of the Imagination” argues that fairy tales and folk tales are a means of “putting ourselves into a relationship with the higher faculties of the mind.” The essay draws heavily on the writings of Idries Shah about Sufi teaching stories, and Shah’s own colourfully illustrated teaching stories (of which PK had a large collection) were a model for much of her own children’s writing. One important aspect of The Digital Page edition of the children’s writing will be to put it in the context of PK’s still largely unfamiliar Sufi concerns.
Although PK was a visual artist, all of her children’s books were illustrated by others. However, she took a keen interest in the illustrations and The Digital Page, will draw on PK’s extensive correspondence concerning them, with the books’ illustrators, designers and publishers.
The Digital Page will include images of the original illustrations, in their various formats, in addition to the texts themselves. The accompanying print volume will incoporate a series of highly precocious, colourful crayon drawings which PK herself produced at the age of 4.
- A Flask of Sea Water. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1989. Illustrated by Lazlo Gal.
- The Travelling Musicians. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 1991. Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton.
- The Goat that Flew. Victoria, B.C.: Beach Holme, 1993. Illustrated by Marika Gal. (Sequel to A Flask of Sea Water; second of the trilogy completed by The Sky Tree.)
- A Grain of Sand. Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2003
- A Brazilian Alphabet for the Young Reader. The Porcupine’s Quill, 2005
- Jake, the Baker, Makes a Cake. Oolichan Books, 2008
- The Old Woman and the Hen. The Porcupine’s Quill, 2008
- There Once Was a Camel. Victoria, B.C.: Ekstasis Editions, 2008. Illustrated by Kristi Bridgeman.
- The Sky Tree: A Trilogy of Fables. Lantzville, B.C.: Oolichan Books, 2009. Illustrated by Kristi Bridgeman.
- Uirapurú: Based on a Brazilian Legend. Fernie, B.C.: Oolichan Books, 2010. Illustrated by Kristi Bridgeman.