Not long ago I had the book launch for my debut picture book, LILLA’S SUNFLOWERS. It was an exciting, invigorating, and tiring day.
Now I am deep into the marketing phase—not a hat I was prepared to wear. My degree is in visual art, not marketing, but with the help of my husband we are making some progress.
Here is a synopsis of my story: Lilla and Papa enjoy spending magical times in Lilla’s sunflower patch. Before Papa leaves for a trip that will take him far away from home for a long time, Lilla gives him a sunflower seed. “To remember me, Papa,” Lilla whispers.
Seasons pass, and Lilla’s mood falls like autumn leaves.
Finally, news comes that her papa is coming home! The following summer, to her surprise, she receives letters from families with photos of their loved ones pictured with sunflowers. She learns that her gift to her father brightened the dark days for many people, and that her one small seed continued spreading sunshine across the country.
Through the illustrations, the reader learns Lilla’s father has left for military deployment. The story was inspired by videos of children and pets being reunited with their loved ones who’d been deployed to serve our country.
As I wrote my story I knew I wanted it to be heartwarming. Funny stories are great, but not really me. Even as a small child my favorite book was a touching book called THE SHEEP OF THE LAL BAGH. It was about a sheep that was replaced by a lawnmower and is brought back when the townspeople realize what a unique contribution he made to their town.
So I wrote in my quiet style and hoped it would sell. And it did—within months. But I was not prepared for the impact the words and images that once only existed in my mind would have on others.
It didn’t hit me until after the book launch when I received a touching email from a reader who said my book was just what her family needed—her husband was being deployed in 2017 for a year.
Another surprise I received was from a veteran who read my book and bought it to read to his grandchildren. He planned to read to them as a way to open a discussion about how their mom handled his deployment during the Korean War.
Like the flowers in Lilla’s garden, I hope my little book of hope can continue to reach many readers and bring a little sunshine far and wide.
Colleen Rowan Kosinski is an author-illustrator of children’s books. As a lover of nature and animals, in the spring you can usually find her nursing a sick rabbit or robin back to health. Colleen resides in Cherry Hill, NJ with her husband, three sons, Doberman Pinscher, Rottweiler, and Miniature Dachshund. Follow her journey @writergirlrowan.
Thank you, Colleen, for such a touching story behind the story. Colleen is giving away a copy of LILLA’S SUNFLOWERS to a random commenter. Leave a comment below, one comment per person, US addresses only, please. A winner will be randomly selected in two weeks.