Friday, December 9

Sarah Jane's Very Best Story Ever

Once in awhile, you have the chance to do something that has the capacity to truly touch hearts and lives.

Recently, I had the opportunity to play a small role in a project that has been years in the making. Over the past month, it has been my pleasure to become acquainted with three wonderful women -- Janie Van Komen, Sarah Jane Van Komen, and Jean Keaton. Janie is the author of the inspirational true story, Snow Angels. Sarah was an aspiring storyteller. Jean is best known for her pencil sketches of Christ and children.

As a child, Jean Keaton's passion for drawing began as soon as she could hold a pencil. Growing up as one of nine children, the lack of money and space in her home prevented her from dabbling in most art mediums. However, since there was always a pencil and piece of paper laying around, drawing is what she learned to do best.

Until 1995, Jean's drawing was just a hobby. Then, she began to market a series of pictures portraying Christ with children of various ages.

Janie Van Komen, meanwhile, was busy raising her family and pursuing her love of writing. Janie's daughter, Sarah Jane (the sixth child of the Van Komen's ten), shared her mother's passion for writing and wanted to become a writer and an illustrator.

Little did Jean, Janie, and Sarah Jane know that a series of events would shortly come to pass that would bring them all together.

In 1997, Sarah Jane died in a tragic automobile accident. She was sixteen years old.

Jean was subsequently commissioned to draw Sarah Jane's portrait, marking the beginning of her association with Sarah Jane's mother, Janie. Following an inspirational experience -- an experience wherein Sarah Jane made clear a message she wanted to share -- Janie decided to write a story, Sarah Jane's Very Best Story Ever, as a tribute to her daughter's legacy. She invited Jean to illustrate it.

This fall, after years of work, the illustrations were complete.

As a graphic designer, I was asked to take Jean's breathtaking illustrations (her first works in full color) and the text of Janie's story and merge everything together in order to create a book.
Formatting the book was not without it's trials. Computer glitches and gremlins often tested my patience. However, bouyed by the efforts of Janie, Sarah Jane, and Jean to bring the story to life, I came to know that Sarah Jane's Very Best Story Ever was indeed something that needed to reach far beyond the circle of people who already knew and loved it.

Jean has said, "It was an honor to do the drawings for this book, and I am grateful to the Van Komen family for this privilege and their patience. Since my youth I have dreamed of illustrating children's books. Knowing Sarah dreamed of publishing children's stories, I hope she shares my feeling that it surely is a dream come true."

Now, with the book in the hands of the printer, we all look forward to sharing it with others when it comes off the presses later this month. I am humbled to have been a part of the process and to have associated with great women like Janie, Sarah Jane, and Jean -- women who brought their dreams to fruition with an incredible book that will truly touch hearts and lives.

~lori, 2005

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