Fraser artist inspires new children’s book
February 24, 2012
FRASER – After a visit to Fraser, Mary Jean Jeanae, Ph.D., was inspired to write a children’s book teaching children to be thankful. Her inspiration – the artwork of local artist Elizabeth Kurtak.
“You never know when a seed for an idea will grow,” said Jeanae. Three years ago, Jeanae was staying in a friend’s condo when she wandered into Kurtak’s art gallery.
It was Kurtak’s fox painting that stood out to Jeanae, and the bright and vivid colors she used in her whimsical paintings.
Jaenae lives in south central Iowa and is a retired Children’s Literature professor from Graceland University. She left Colorado, and while on a flight to Santa Barbara she kept thinking of a way to put the illustrations to work.
That is when the idea of using the theme of gratitude hit her.
“She bought some of my illustrated note cards,” said Kurtak, “and contacted me out of the blue.”
After collaborating for three years on the project the book was unveiled last Friday night at Kurtak’s gallery.
“Mary Jean wrote the text and I illustrated each page to match the writing. I designed it to be read at night. I saw it as a gentle, important story.” Kurtak has illustrated two other books, this being her first children’s book.
She said she wanted children to hunt and find things in the pictures, because that is what she enjoyed as a child.
Reading through the book, children learn what each animal and insect are thankful for in their lives and why. The message is inspiring and written in a simple, clear format. Deep, rich colors illustrate each page to catch the attention of the children.
One page expressing gratitude leads to another, until all the book’s characters are thankful together, breaking into a page of a “magnificent rainbow.”
At the back of the book, parents are encouraged to use the concept in other activities of their children’s lives.
“The more gratitude I have the better I feel, and the better I feel the more gratitude I have” was the concept that inspired Jeanae.
The book is available just in time for Easter, and can be purchased at Kurtak’s Gallery, at the back of the Fraser Mercantile Company building in Fraser.