Faith Pray of Port Townsend has published her second children’s book, “Perfectly Imperfect Mira,” about adopting a growth mindset. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

Faith Pray of Port Townsend has published her second children’s book, “Perfectly Imperfect Mira,” about adopting a growth mindset. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)

Joy of play emphasized in children’s book

Port Townsend author to sign books on Friday

PORT TOWNSEND — Mira, a local girl, wants to try something new. Maybe skating. Gymnastics looks fun, as does playing a musical instrument.

She couldn’t help watching other kids — kids who were so good at sports, music, dance, art. They all stopped Mira in her tracks.

One day, though, she went out to the water: North Beach in Port Townsend, that is. With only the sand and waves as her audience, she did a little leap and frolic. There was a wobble, then a tumble, neither of which was terrible. So Mira goes ahead and gives it another try. Good things happen — and keep on happening to our girl, who learns through experience about the growth mindset.

This is the story of “Perfectly Imperfect Mira,” the second picture book from local author Faith Pray; “yes, that’s really her name!” the book jacket notes.

The new release is available from local book and gift stores and will be the star of a signing party Friday at Abracadabra, 936 Water St. Pray will draw, sign books and share stories and buttons from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Published by Little, Brown and Co., “Mira” is categorized for ages 2 to 8, but Pray hopes its message makes sense to older children and, yes, adults.

“I feel kind of like Mira,” the author-illustrator said.

Mother to four children, Pray has always been an artist and writer. She worked at the old Grant Street Elementary School and had a following on social media and for her blog, “Sacred Dirt.”

Then, in 2013, Pray suffered a stroke. Afterward, she had a tough time getting back into her writing.

“So I took an illustration class, to find a back door back in,” she recalled.

Meantime, a family member showed her how perfectly OK it is to be an “older beginner,” as Pray put it.

Her 11-year-old daughter, unlike her siblings, was not into soccer. At all. She wanted to get into gymnastics, but her mother worried she’d face a struggle, since many kids start the sport when they’re much younger.

But “when my daughter went, she had no problem. She said, ‘This is fine,’” Pray remembered.

All of this showed Mom, now 48, that you don’t have to be the absolute best to get a whole lot of satisfaction out of an activity, be it gymnastics or writing or drawing.

“I learned to celebrate the success of doing something, instead of wishing and hoping to publish [it],” Pray said.

She kept creating, and in summer 2020, she published her first book, “The Starkeeper,” on Random House. And now “Perfectly Imperfect Mira” is the first in a two-book contract with Little, Brown.

“Mira,” with its illustrations of North Beach scenes, is Pray’s offering of the message that, whatever you’re doing, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Pursue what brings you joy, and take delight in the process, whatever your age.

Melody Sky Weaver, Port Townsend Library director, is one of Pray’s fans.

Perfectionism was keeping Mira from the joy of play, Weaver said. When she has her realization that mistakes aren’t the end of the world, she becomes an excellent role model.

“I adore that she represents size inclusivity, as it is so important to see children of all different backgrounds and sizes and shapes reflected in picture books,” Weaver added.

Emily Bufford, the Youth Services librarian at the Port Townsend Library, also read “Mira,” and said it fills a need among kids who feel nervous in uncharted territory.

“I frequently work with parents interested in book recommendations that will support their children through new experiences,” Bufford said.

“‘Perfectly Imperfect Mira’ is a wonderful choice, as the main character demonstrates the importance of trying new things, making mistakes, and trying again.

“I was so impressed,” she added, “by the positive energy and joyful tone.”

In the course of the story, Mira goes from indoors to outdoors, specifically to the spacious beach Pray illustrates in Northwest blue, gold and green.

“I didn’t want to just write a ‘social emotional’ book,” she said; “I wanted it to be set somewhere that feels like it could transport you. North Beach is definitely that place for me.”

Pray is the daughter of Richard Jesse Watson, the internationally recognized artist who lives in Port Townsend, and Susi Watson, to whom she dedicates her new book.

“For my mama, who taught me to love growing,” Pray writes at the beginning.

“She’s always had a beautiful garden; she can make everything grow,” the author added.

“She’s been the heart of our family, and inspired all of us.”


Jefferson County Senior Reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]

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