WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) --     “I'm a late-comer to publishing with a scratch-paper collection of memories and ideas,” says JoAn Bakker, author of the recently published paperback book A Field Trip to the Jeffers Petroglyphs. “At 81 years, I have to think, 'If not now, when?' ”

    Bakker may be new to book publishing, but as she said, she's been collecting material for years. She enjoys communicating with both words and artwork.  The photos and drawings in the book are all original with Bakker. Her reproduction of ancient carvings scattered throughout the book challenge the reader to think about the meaning intended by the creators. At times she superimposes her artwork over actual photos she took at the site.

    She said, “I felt a need to make available to those visiting the site, especially youngsters, the experience of what can be seen and felt in a short tour of the carvings.” Abigail McKinney, Bakker's granddaughter from Walnut Grove, assisted JoAn by lining and inking the drawings on the computer.

    JoAn's and her husband Wes's interest in the petroglyph site dates back to the time before the site became a part of the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS). They worked with others interested in preserving the area where Native Americans had created meaningful carvings on the exposed quartzite rock for several millenia. In 1962, the Bakkers were influential in getting the MHS to acquire the site which was developed into the museum tourists can visit today.

    When the MHS hired Tom Sanders as the museum's site manager and archaeologist in 1999, JoAn was one of the first site guides he hired. In the Foreward of JoAn's newest book, Sanders wrote, “From the start, her knowledge, creativity and passion made important contributions to the educational programs at the site.”

    Guides are hired to create an understanding and an appreciation of the centuries-old carvings at the Jeffers Petroglyphs site. JoAn's interest in the Native American people began to grow as she shared her knowledge with others, and the seeds for her current book began sprouting.

    JoAn has the “itch” to publish children's books. The petroglyphs book is JoAn's second published book, and a third should be published in a few months. All of them include her original drawings. “Some can and must share the wonder of the world around us by making music or art or by less tactile methods. I use the pen to express myself in both phrasing and drawings. . . .I enjoy the exquisite effort of writing for others to read.” Although she acknowledges that it is humbling to expose oneself via writing, the only way to overcome the itch is continuing to write.

    Bakker's Petroglyphs book can be found locally at Maynard's, the First Avenue Salon, the Jeffers Petroglyphs site or directly from the author. They are also available on line at amazon.com or CreateSpace.com.