Sailing to self-discovery


Seniors Rachael Bae and Ananya Someshwar displaying their children’s book

After months of re-drawing illustrations and late-night phone calls, seniors Rachael Bae and Ananya Someshwar published the children’s novel “The Little Boat” to spread the message of finding joy in the little things in life.

“I wanted to write a book where people would be reminded of the important things like love of family, generosity and kindness,” Bae said. “No matter who you are, everyone has a purpose in life that is unique to them.”

The Little Boat compares itself to the much larger and fancier boats it is surrounded by in the dock. This boat wants to travel and live life as the other boats do, and when he is finally able to go on an adventure, he learns a lesson about something much more meaningful.

“Just like how the Little Boat learns his special purpose despite his size,” Bae said. “I’ve come to realize that my disability is no reason to think I can’t make a difference. I’ve been able to make more of an impact in my community through my disability, connecting with other disabled individuals and advocating for their needs. Similarly, the Little Boat finds himself happy simply to be bringing joy to the family that takes him out for a sail, and that doesn’t mean he’s any less important than the other bigger, fancier boats in the dock.”

Bae was able to find the good in her disability, so she took it upon herself to help others in the same situation feel less isolated. Inspiration came at the start of quarantine when Bae sensed declining spirits and division between society and her peers. She started to write this story at the beginning of her junior year and later reached out to Someshwar for the illustrations.

“I feel like we can all resonate with the Little Boat because we are little boats [ourselves],” Someshwar said. “We constantly find ourselves looking at other people and thinking they have it better. We don’t realize the beauty in our own lives that you have to find.”

Close friends Bae and Someshwar were able to lean on one another during this tedious and complex process. Their preestablished trust and connection with each other, coupled with their love of writing and drawing, allowed them to produce meaningful work.

“[The process of writing a book] was a lot more complicated than I thought,” Bae said. “We made a bunch of mistakes at first, especially in the printing process, but it had all worked out. It was easier because I knew that I could go to [Someshwar] for anything.”

Bae and Someshwar were both supported by their family and teachers to publish this book in hopes that this message might benefit others. Someshwar received encouragement from Visual Arts teacher Erika Perales, and Bae’s seventh and eighth-grade teachers assisted her in reviewing and editing the book.

“I was super impressed with [Someshwar],” Perales said. “She had this creative spirit and wanted to channel it into a different direction and publish her book. The story is heartfelt and relatable to kids and I was super excited to take their book back to my kids. [Bae and Someshwar] advocate for themselves and they take initiative on these types of projects and that’s going to take them far as artists.”

The book was self-published through Kindle Direct Publishing at the end of the summer of 2021. They felt as if their hard work had paid off and they were grateful to have gotten the chance to self-publish and share this important message to children and adults of all ages.

“I learned that you have to have a lot of patience in the process and just continue to persevere even though there are difficulties especially if it’s really meaningful to you,” Someshwar said. “In the end, it was so worth it. And self-publishing has given us that opportunity [to share this message].”