Family lore fuels Jacob’s children’s book

Paul Rodgers

Cranbrook born and bred writer and communications professional extraordinaire Jody Jacob has self-published a book for kids up to the age of seven entitled the “Man & the Bear”. Proceeds from the book, which launches with an accompanying reading 4:00 to 5:30 on November 14 at Soulfood, will be donated to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Cranbrook.

The book represents just one more step in a long journey through a professional life geared towards storytelling and also encompasses a big piece of Jacob’s family history; the story of a man who encounters a bear, bees and a bird while out in the bush actually comes from a song written by her great grandmother.

“Growing up I always heard this song sung to me and it’s been passed down probably, almost close to a century, throughout my family,” Jacob told the Townsman. Jacob now sings the song to her two boys: Mason, 6 and Maddox, 4.

“It’s just been a really special thing in my family and after I had kids I started thinking about what I could do for them,” said Jacob. “And I’ve always been really big on family and I’ve always believed that history sort of binds us I guess, and I just wanted to do something for my family.”

She initially put the song to paper six years ago and realized that it could make sense in a book format. She had it in the works until her second son came along, when the story got pushed to the side for a while. Then her grandmother told her how much she would love to see it completed and Jody said, “yeah, it’s time.”

Jody, 35, has a background in communications, receiving her Bachelors of Communications in Journalism from Mount Royal University. She then got a job telling stories for the public affairs department at the University of British Columbia Okanagan. It was here that she met Tyler Pentland, who was working there as a graphic designer.

Pentland is an accomplished artist in a wide range of mediums; he even recently won a Vancouver Art Battle. He and Jacob have remained friends and colleagues since their time working together at UBCO and she felt he was the perfect fit when she began seeking an illustrator for her first book.

After her time in the Okanagan, Jacob returned to Cranbrook around three years ago, and bought her childhood home with her family on Jim Smith Lake. She worked with the Cranbrook and District Community Foundation that shared an office space with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Cranbrook and got to know their executive director Jordan MacDonald. She and Jacob have since worked together on several fundraising events and she’s done public relations work for her and the organization.

“I do a lot of cause-marketing and I truly believe that when you do something you do it in a way that benefits the most amount of people that it can,” said Jacob. “And so it was just a real natural thing for me to partner with Big Brothers Big Sisters and I know the organization is well organized and Jordan is amazing, so it was kind of a no brainer for me. It just made perfect sense.”

Fifty per cent of proceeds from every book sold at the launch at Soulfood on November 14 will go towards Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Cranbrook as will 100 per cent of funds raised by Soulfood from kid’s meal donations. After the launch 10 per cent of the proceeds of each book sold will be donated to the organization as well.

While Jacob’s journey up until this point of self-publishing her own book may seem like a linear progression, Jacob says she doesn’t think she ever strategically chose to become a writer, it’s just always been something she’s done.

She recalled a memory from when she was eight years old attending TM Roberts school and had to write a story. She wrote one about a figure skater hurting herself before a competition and remembers loving the story and feeling proud of it, and then when she submitted it to her teacher, the teacher also loved it and read it to the class.

“It was just like this really exciting thing and it’s one of my earliest memories from school and I never really thought that much about it I just kind of remembered it,” said Jacob. She then said that the year she graduated journalism school she was attending a Kootenay Ice game and she ran into the teacher. The teacher told Jacob she remembered her story and asked what she was doing now.

“And I was like, well I’m a writer! So I don’t think I strategically chose to be a writer it’s just, I’ve always done it. And I’ve always loved telling stories, so whether that’s telling somebody else’s story — I love to communicate.”

Jacob already has another book in the works, one that goes back to a time when she was very little, and she wrote a story with her grandmother and two brothers.

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