Local author, illustrator collaborate on second children’s book

by Kim Scott Sowinski 

Life lessons and using God-given talents are the themes found in “Born to be Strong,” a new children’s book released in November by Independence author Denise Rose.

This is her second publication and she used her second grandson, CJ, as the main character and inspiration for the story.

“I have a goal of writing a book for each of my grandchildren based on their specific God-given gifts and talents,” said Rose. “Before I write their book, I ask them what they would like me to include in it. I love to get their ideas. It also helps me to see it through the eyes of a child as I develop the framework of the story.

“CJ is very strong physically, but I want him to know there are many ways to be strong, and lean on the importance of prayer and his incredible inner strength and resilience. I want him to know he can accomplish anything he wants to with a deep faith in God and help others in the process.”

Rose’s first book published in 2020, “Laugh for Heaven’s Sake,” featured her first grandchild, Grace. Both books also feature great nieces and nephews and Leo the dog as supporting characters.

Richfield artist, Linda Zust, did the illustrations for both books. For “Born to be Strong,” Zust used acrylic and watercolor paints, a different medium than the first book, which was done with pencil.

“I was going for more vibrant colors due to the setting of the book, which takes place in the wild,” said Zust.

Rose said she thought the landscape would be fun for children as well as the lion, a symbol of courage and strength.

“We also carried over some details from the first book to make a connection between the two, keeping the characters recognizable,” said Rose.

Zust said, “The more I work with Denise, the easier it is to see her vision. We worked together to see it come to life. As an illustrator, the hardest part is making the author’s vision and words come to life.”

This project, which took about 18 months, was easier this time around. “This book was so fun to write. The words seemed to come together much more quickly than first,” said Rose. “It was fun working with Linda again to create each drawing. ‘Born to be Strong’ was much more detailed and required more of Linda’s time and talent. Her incredible gift of drawing animals shows through in these fabulous illustrations.”

Rose said she is constantly working to strengthen her faith and looks to the bible verse Philippians 4:13, which says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

“It helps me walk through life knowing that with God all things are possible. It gives me inner peace and strength when I reinforce these words in all that I do,” said Rose. “My hope is that if a child reads my books and recognizes their inner gifts and talents through reading them, I have accomplished my goal.”

For more information, visit denisemrose.com. ∞

Photo: Independence author Denise Rose (l) and Richfield illustrator Linda Zust (r) pose with their new book “Born to be Strong” at a book launch and signing at LaVilletta in Richfield. Photo by Kim Scott Sowinski.