2004-10-01 / Community

‘Water Daughter’ Dives Into Publishing

By Brian Magoolaghan

  • A Rockaway Park woman, who formed her own company to fulfill her dream of publishing children’s books, has released “Obara and the Merchants” – the first in a series designed to teach universal life lessons to young people.
  • Author/publisher Michelle Bodden said she was brought to tears when the printed books finally arrived at her Beach 86 Street home on August 27. The boxes and boxes that now fill her home represent a yearlong investment of her creativity, time, and several thousand dollars.

    Bodden, the mother of an 11-year old boy and 15-year-old girl, is Vice President for Elementary Education for the United Federation of Teachers. She recently founded Water Daughter Publishing and released her first book, a 31- page story, with rich illustrations by Quentin “kwenci” Jones, geared towards young readers. It is an adaptation of an apataki (a-pa-ta-KEY), or sacred story, from traditional African religion, Yoruba, and is set in Nigeria. Those details are secondary, however, to the story’s message about sharing: Obara (o-BAH-ra) is a skilled hunter who, during a time of famine, must decide whether to share his food with his neighbors who are starving.

    Like most children’s writing, the story of Obara and his neighbors is simple and brief, but it’s also surprising, charming and heartwarming. Bodden chose not to create a superhero with extraordinary powers – her story is about people, their neighbors and nature.

    “It’s really a very gentile story that has an important message,” Bodden told The Wave.

    She described the process of creating the book as “an extraordinary journey.”

    The easy part was finding the story. The challenge was adapting it for children.

    “I had to look at the essence of the work,” she said.

    Finding Jones to do the illustrations happened by chance. Bodden noticed a mural featuring large animals at the intersection of Flatbush Avenue and Empire Boulevard and knew she had found the artist she was looking for.

    The animals in the mural “looked like they were going to come out at you,” said Bodden, who contacted Jones and immediately commissioned sketches.

    “I really wanted it done, and I really wanted it done well,” Bodden continued.

    To accomplish that goal she also enlisted the help of Manhattan based RJ Communications, which unites independent printers into “a single strategic alliance,” according to its company credo. The company helped her every step of the way, she said, and even helped her to get the book listed on Amazon.com.

    Bodden, who said the story has a message that is particularly relevant during the upcoming holiday months, told The Wave she is working with the Queens Public Library system to get the books entered into local circulation. This is the first of many stories she hopes to publish.

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