Author and artist a perfect fit for puzzle mystery

The Lost Puzzle Piece really came to life with the vibrant work of a young Oak Bay artist

Oak Bay artist Genevieve Chandler

Oak Bay artist Genevieve Chandler

A tale of a lost puzzle piece that makes its return sprouts from real-life events in author Jennifer Ferris’ family.

“We had a jigsaw puzzle one year that had a piece missing and then the next year we did the puzzle again and the piece wasn’t missing. We couldn’t figure out what happened,” the author explained.

So as a longtime storyteller, she developed her own version, where a handmade Christmas angel off the tree sets off on an adventure in search of the missing piece.

The children’s book The Lost Puzzle Piece really came to life with the vibrant work of a young Oak Bay artist. Ferris met her illustrator while working as an education assistant at Oak Bay High where Genevieve Chandler was a student. Chandler happens to be diagnosed as having autism spectrum disorder and the pair wound up working together a lot. When it came time to pen her tale, Ferris sought Chandler to add the colour.

“She’s a very talented artist. Her illustrations are fabulous,” Ferris said. “Her vision of the book may be a little different than mine.”

Rather than causing strife between them, Chandler’s vision inspired Ferries.

“The way she visualized the story really made it come alive,” Ferris said.

Chandler works in markers and the occasional pencil crayon to “help the ink of the markers blend, like watercolours in painting.”

The Oak Bay High grad was featured in a solo show Syndromation in the MacLaurin Building at UVic’s School of Education. She’s also appeared in the community at events such as the Bowker Creek Brush Up. Her characters are bright and vivacious, not unlike the artist herself.

“I have my own way of drawing everybody, I make us look cute and welcoming and a bit alien-like,” Chandler says of her wide-eyed characters. “For backgrounds I get some help from the computer.”

Knowing her illustrator may have helped longtime storyteller Ferris clear some hurdles in her first foray into print.

“For a long time I really felt I should stay true to the oral tradition and keep the stories in my head,” she said. “My husband said if something happened to you we wouldn’t have your stories anymore.”

Writing a book is a different beast than telling a tale where a storyteller can feature gesture, pause and tone.

“It’s not just the words, it’s the tone of voice, the way the teller uses gesture,” Ferris said. “Storytelling is a magical experience because the audience becomes part of the story.”

It wasn’t an insurmountable challenge and the pair are already working on a second family story set on Malta.

“She’s already done a couple of illustrations that are amazing,” Ferris said.

She expects the second book to come out late next summer.

Get the book at Ivy’s Bookshop or online at or email amused



Just Posted

The 14th annual Oak Bay Young Exceptional Star (YES) awards June 3. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay celebrates its Young Exceptional Stars with outdoor award ceremony

Nine young people recognized in 14th annual awards

Jada Benwell and Connor Larkey are the valedictorians of the 2021 graduating class at Parkland Secondary School. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Pandemic taught lessons in perseverance for North Saanich high schoolers

Parkland Secondary School to release 2021 grad ceremony video on June 25

A pub patio in Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Patio and picnic dining could mean a free meal for Greater Victoria patrons

Local celebrities pick up the tab with latest Greater Victoria chamber contest

Greater Victoria School District (SD61) Saturday announced a COVID-19 exposure at Oak Bay High School. (Black Press Media File).
Oak Bay High School subject of COVID-19 exposure

Greater Victoria School District (SD61) said possible exposure happened June 9-10

St. Andrew’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria bishop apologizes for church’s role in residential schools

Bishop Gary Gordon voices commitment to healing and reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read