Mom's letter to son morphs into children's book
Anything is possible
What began as a letter from a mother to a young son evolved into a book with a message that's as motivational to the first-time author as it is to the children who read her story: whatever you dream, it can happen.
LINDA WHITE -- Special to Sun Media
Author Marianne-Leigh Sanchez Ellazar poses with her son Kaizen.
Marianne-Leigh Sanchez Ellazar of Toronto has been putting pen to paper since she was just 10 years old and continues to write and sketch daily. But she found new inspiration when her son, Kaizen, was born.
"One day, as I watched him play, I started writing notes to him; something he could read later," Sanchez Ellazar says. "I wanted him to know that he could be anything he wanted to. At such a young age, I didn't know how he could understand that. What began as a letter became a book."
The book, entitled Anything, follows the struggles of a young elephant trying to grow up fast. As he learns and interacts with many new things, he discovers that choices have to be made in order to move on. The message of the book is that children can become successful in their chosen paths by remembering the lessons and love they receive from their parents.
The message struck a chord. "I submitted my manuscript to several publishers, e-mailing them at three or four in the morning," Sanchez Ellazar says. "One called me back six hours later ... after that one call everything took off from there."
The publisher, Xlibris, is among the pioneers of the print-on-demand publishing services industry. It originally planned to find an illustrator for Sanchez Ellazar's book, but when she suggested she tackle the job, they reviewed her work and the search was over. It took weeks to paint each page and about nine months to complete the book.
Sanchez Ellazar works in retail advertising with Sun Media and is studying publishing part time at Ryerson University. The 30-year-old Brampton native has attended several book shows, including the Frankfurt International Book Fair and the New York Library Association Book Fair, and dreams about writing more books. "I definitely see another book in our future ... Hopefully another 10 or 20."
In addition to her passion for writing, Sanchez Ellazar loves photography, painting, fashion, philosophy, history, theatre and travelling. Her son, now two-and-a-half, is named after a Japanese philosophical term that means "constant improvement."
"It's a philosophy we try to live by every day," she says. Kaizen shares his parents' love of books and now recognizes the one penned and illustrated by his mom. "He totally gets it," Sanchez Ellazar says. "Whenever he sees it, he shouts, 'That's our book!'"
Proceeds from Anything will be shared among ThinkCure.org, a charity organization that benefits Children with cancer, and kidsv cancer.org, a foundation determined to find innovative solutions for children who need help and hope.
"Not only am I a mom to Kaizen, but I feel like a parent to all kids and want to do something to help others," Sanchez Ellazar says.