Local children's author releases 14th book

Just in time for school, children's author-illustrator Laura McGee Kvasnosky has released her 14th book, "Zelda and Ivy, the Runaways," the fourth in her series about two fox sisters.

In this early reader aimed for ages 5 to 8, the story begins when the two sisters run away to avoid having to eat cucumber sandwiches.

"I don't like candy-coated stories," said Kvasnosky. "My girls are sassy and tart. They're real."

The other books in the series include "Zelda and Ivy," "Zelda and Ivy and the Boy Next Door" and "Zelda and Ivy One Christmas." Two of the books have been translated into Danish. All of the books have also been adapted for British and Australian markets.

'Absolutely wonderful'

"We sell them quite regularly," said Chauni Haslet, owner of All for Kids Books and Music, of the series. "We think she is absolutely wonderful for children. She's inpiring. She's clever. She's everything you would want in a children's author and illustrator."

Some of Kvasnosky's illustrations are on display in the store's window at 2900 N.E. Blakeley St.

"Writing and illustrating for kids was something she dreamed about for years and then realized in her mid-40s after several years of preparation and hard work," said her husband John.

Middle child in family of five

Kvasnosky grew up as the middle child in a family of five children. Being part of a big family, as well as the adventures of her own son and daughter, have fueled the stories of the fox sisters and her other literary characters.

Kvasnosky admits she loved to read as a kid. She also wrote a weekly column in high school, called Campus Letter that was published in her father's small daily newspaper in California.

"A picture book is a lot like a good news story," she said. "Journalism was a good preparation."

Kvasnosky developed her first book, "What Shall I Dream?," in a class at the School of Visual Concepts, with instructor Keith Baker. She took the class for two summers. Then, during the third summer, Kvasnosky taught the class with Baker. Gayle Richardson, who worked at the Northeast Library at the time, inspired her to get her first book published.

Kvasnosky writes everyday when she wakes up in the morning. She also thinks about writing when she is pulling weeds in her garden. Every month, Kvasnosky meets with fellow writers Margaret Chodos-Irvine, Julie Paschkis and Meg Lippert, to all of whom she has dedicated her latest book, "Zelda and Ivy, the Runaways."

Doubles as illustrator

A graphic designer for about 15 years, Kvasnosky also does all of her books' illustrations.

"I love color and I love playing with art materials," said Kvasnosky.

Kvasnosky, a longtime Laurelhurst resident, has been writing and illustrating now for 15 years. She regularly visits schools to teach children how to create characters and tell their own life stories.

"I do really enjoy meeting kids and seeing how my stories have meant a lot to them," she said.

"Speaking as the proud spouse, one of the many things that fascinates me about her work is her ability to help kids (and often their entire families) get excited about telling their own stories through pictures and words, which she does in family story workshops that accompany her school visits," added John.

Penned novel for middle-schoolers

In addition to the Zelda and Ivy books, Kvasnosky has also written books for toddlers and a novel about a young boy for middle-school students called "One Lucky Summer."

"I think writing for kids does allow you to be very playful," said Kvasnosky.

"She puts humor into her books so that children can enjoy youthful antics without it having to be a put- down," added Haslet.

For more information on Laura McGee Kvasnosky, visit www.lmk books.com.

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