By Ashley M. Casey
Local author Lisa Buske, known for her books about her missing sister Heidi Allen, released her first children’s book, “You Are a Rainbow” in June.
Buske, who lives in New Haven, said she drew inspiration from her class of kindergartners at Mexico Elementary School.
“I saw so much potential in them. Some of them recognize that potential, and others do not,” Buske said.
To celebrate her students’ best qualities, Buske wrote and illustrated “You Are a Rainbow,” which assigns different adjectives to each letter of the word “rainbow.” She said she wants readers of all ages “to share their light and brightness with other people.” She created watercolor paintings of different flowers for each page. Each letter and flower corresponds to a different color and letter of the rainbow.
“I get to play with paint and get dirty and have fun instead of racking my brain with that stuff,” Buske said of how “You Are a Rainbow” compares to the rest of her work.
“That stuff” refers to the themes of grief and loss, which are present throughout her other books. Buske’s previous works have been prose books, mostly centered around the loss of her sister Heidi Allen, who went missing in 1994 while working at the D&W Convenience Store in New Haven.
“This is the first book that isn’t grief-centered,” Buske said. “(This book is) just plain encouragement and inspiration so people look within.”
Buske presented the first “collector’s” copies of “You Are a Rainbow” to her students. She’s already seeing the book’s ripple effects.
The grandmother of one of those students, Kacce Killam, wrote to Buske to tell her how Kacce was spreading the word about her teacher’s book. At a recent medical checkup, Kacce “beamed right up (at the doctor) and said, ‘Do you know I am a rainbow? My teacher wrote a book. You’re a rainbow too, you know.’”
Buske said she sold two copies of the book right after Kacce’s story.
“That to me is so worth it … I thought that was precious,” Buske said.
The book also includes a resource and activity section for parents and teachers to engage kids in reading it. Buske said children can draw pictures of their own “rainbows” or write about how they fit the qualities of the rainbow.
“I also want to challenge their brains,” she said. She added she is in the process of writing a separate teacher’s guide for “You Are a Rainbow.”
Buske said she has a few more children’s books in the works that will deal with abduction. She wants to help parents discuss safety with their children without being scared.
“They’re a little deeper, and I don’t want them to come out until they’re ready,” Buske said.
“You Are a Rainbow” is available on amazon.com and at the New Haven Farmers Market 3 to 6 p.m. Mondays.
To learn more about Lisa Buske and her writing, visit lisambuske.com.