Someone Special: A Lion's Tale celebrates the value of the uniqueness and individualism that we all share.
This children's book, written and illustrated by Dee Kasarda of Pocono Lake, teaches kids that the key to being awesome is by being different.
Someone Special: A Lion's Tale tells the story of Leeo the lionfish, the love child of Andrew the lion and Caiti Catfish. A lion from the waist up with a catfish tail from the waist down, Leeo can swim in the ocean or visit his lion cub cousins on land. The problem is, while he can exist in both worlds, he doesn't feel accepted in either world.
"If we could just sensitize kids at an early age, maybe we wouldn't have so much bullying and related tragedies," Kasarda said.
Leeo, a union of the animal kingdom and the sea world, can neither breathe underwater nor walk on land. While both odd and challenged in either environment, his unique combination of features that helps him to solve problems that cousins in either habitat are unable to overcome. Likewise, Leeo requires help and teamwork from his cousins on both land and sea to keep body and soul together.
On both land and sea, some of his cousins find Leo to be strange and are uncomfortable being with him - even making fun of him, while others help and teach him. Ultimately, Leeo not only adapts but because of both his unique physicality and the lessons he learned along the way, finds himself up to the challenge - and ultimately a hero - when a storm terrifies both the land and the sea.
Kasarda chanced upon the storyline when, several years ago as she was boarding a boat, the Lionfish. "The couple that owned the boat named it after their astrological signs," she said. "He was a Pisces. She was a Leo."
"As we boarded the boat, I thought, 'There is a children's book here.' That weekend, the idea began whirling around in my head. I started working on the storyline and the drawings, and came up with the basic theme of the story, 'keep trying, don't give up.'"
"I'm writing this for those who are being bullied," she continued. "Eventually life will get better. There is a lot of improvising and opportunities for some great teamwork."
This is the first book for the Phoenixville, Chester County native who left her hometown at the age of 19 to get married. "I lived in a house with one brother, two sisters, and one bathroom," she noted,and joked. "I got married to get my own bathroom." After 46 years, she's still married to her husband, Dennis.
They moved to Pocono Lake in 1980 where Dee open a deli where she made "tons of potato salad, macaroni salad, and chicken salad."
She began working on her book, especially the 27 watercolor illustrations, during the few breaks from her 16 hour day, seven days a week schedule. In 2005, she retired, which gave her time to complete Someone Special: A Lion's Tale. "I have two more books whirling around in my head right now."
"Writing a book was one thing that I hadn't done yet," said Kasarda, an eternal optimist. "I've worked construction. I sew my own clothes. I paint in watercolor. I teach kids skiing. There's nothing I can't do."
Kasarda completed her book in late March and worked with amazon.com affiliate CreateSpace to refine the text and format the illustrations. Someone Special: A Lion's Tale was published in June and is available from Amazon.