See caption

Bedtime story brought to the page in “On Wings of Wonder”

What started as a children’s picture book evolved to a 260-page novel for readers ages 9-12.

A bedtime story that was told to South Whidbey artist Anna Cosper as a child in Holland can now be read by young bookworms all around the world.

The illustrator and her father Doug Cosper, a retired journalist and professor from Colorado, recently partnered on designing and writing a self-published novel for middle-grade readers titled “On Wings of Wonder.”

The father-daughter collaboration is based on the stories Doug would tell Anna and her sister before bed about a young boy traveling on the back of a blue butterfly around the globe.

“He rode on a butterfly to all these different countries and just experienced all these wild and weird things and ate really weird food,” Anna recalled.

Somewhere along the way, she found herself bitten by the travel bug.

“I’m realizing now that I think those stories were my dad’s way of getting my sister and I to travel when we grew up, but it worked because I love travel now,” she said.

For several years, she and her father have been trying to bring the story to the page. What started as a children’s picture book evolved to a 260-page novel for readers ages 9-12.

But it’s not just kids who are taking notice of the book. Several adults have also expressed their interest in the book, which deals with some serious topics.

Doug pulled inspiration from his time as a teacher training journalists and university students in developing democracies, including South Sudan, Cambodia and Myanmar. At the latter location, he recalled teaching journalism secretly in the U.S. Embassy. In Cambodia, he worked with the survivors of the Cambodian genocide.

On her vacation breaks from art school in the Netherlands, Anna would often join her father, who taught in a total of 10 different countries over the course of a decade.

“I would sketch a lot and he would write a lot,” she said. “We would collect all of this kind of data on all of the wonderful things that we encountered and interesting stories that we heard from people who lived there, and kind of wove those into the book.”

In “On Wings of Wonder,” an 11-year-old boy from a mountain town in Colorado encounters a giant talking butterfly named Flinder, the Dutch word for the brightly colored insect. He forms a friendship with a Rohingya refugee who survived the massacre of her village in Myanmar. The pair team up to search for the boy’s missing mother, traveling all around the world in the process.

The book is sprinkled with Anna’s illustrations, from mountain ranges to baobab trees to mopane worms. Besides roasted insects, the kids in the book also feast on “dik dik on a stick.” She used sumi-e, Japanese ink painting, to create her illustrations.

“Anna was much more than an illustrator in the book,” Doug said. “Over the years she put in so much editorial and inspirational content.”

Although butterflies admittedly can’t talk or be ridden to different countries, the book’s characters represent real-life cultures; the novel also cites some recent, real-world atrocities, such as the ongoing genocide of the Muslim Rohingya people. Another prominent character in the novel, a Bushman boy, is representative of a disappearing way of life of living in the Kalahari Desert.

In writing the book, Doug said he was hoping to bring awareness to their plight.

“Readers nine to 12, I think they’re old enough to realize — if it’s presented gently enough — what’s really going on in the world,” he said.

The $1 purchase price of each book will be donated to nonprofit organizations supporting the Rohingya refugee and Bushman communities. The novel has an accompanying website, onwingsofwonder.com, where kids can find resources about the various phenomena appearing in the book.

But above all, both father and daughter agreed their book is about wonder.

“It was my great goal in writing the book to present wonder to the readers in such a way that they see butterflies differently than they ever have before,” Doug said.

“It’s intended to encourage you to cultivate and keep your sense of wonder and curiosity about the world,” Anna said.

“On Wings of Wonder” is available at Moonraker Books in Langley and can also be purchased online at Amazon.com.

Doug and Anna Cosper stand before Mt. Popa, a holy shrine near Mandalay, Myanmar. Mt. Popa’s monastery houses the largest collection of “Nat” figures in Myanmar. In Buddhist traditions, Nats are spirits of humans that met tragic ends. (Photo provided)

Doug and Anna Cosper stand before Mt. Popa, a holy shrine near Mandalay, Myanmar. Mt. Popa’s monastery houses the largest collection of “Nat” figures in Myanmar. In Buddhist traditions, Nats are spirits of humans that met tragic ends. (Photo provided)

Photo provided
A map that illustrator Anna Cosper painted for the book, which follows the journey of a young boy around the globe.

Photo provided A map that illustrator Anna Cosper painted for the book, which follows the journey of a young boy around the globe.

More in Life

See caption
Budding herbalism studio open for business

A Langley herbalist whose business sprouted during the pandemic has opened a new studio.

C.C. Cushen, at far left, presides over what looks like a game of cards with his buddies in the billiard room of his Central Hotel in 1924.
Collection of oral histories tells story of Front Street

A book of interviews compiled by Judy Lynn captures hundreds of years of memories about Coupeville.

Photo provided
Melany Alanis was one of around 500 All American cheerleaders and dancers chosen to march in the Thanksgiving parade at Disney World.
Oak Harbor cheerleader selected to participate in Disney World parade

Senior Melany Alanis was selected to join an elite group of All American dancers and cheerleaders.

Oak Harbor nativity features live animals

Oak Harbor Christian School is bringing the spirit of Christmas with a biblical re-enactment.

See caption
Santa by the Sea

Photos: Santa Claus handed out candy canes to children Saturday evening in Langley.

See caption
A Whale of a Tale

Orca Network celebrates 20th anniversary

Photo provided
Boaters line up at the beginning of the 2009 Deception Pass Dash.
Paddlers to brave cold in Deception Pass Dash

The Deception Pass Dash returns Dec. 11 after being cancelled last year because of COVID-19.

BLT
Lunch at The Braeburn is worth the wait

By RJ Benner rbenner@whidbeynewsgroup.com Last Saturday, my family and I decided to… Continue reading

Michael Stadler/Stadler Studio
Melyssa Smith plays the Nutcracker.
Whidbey Island Dance Theatre is back live on stage with ‘The Nutcracker’ at WICA

Tickets are on sale now for the show which opens Friday, Dec. 10 and runs through Sunday, Dec. 19.

Most Read