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Posted on Fri. Jan. 11, 2013 - 12:01 am EDT

Off to Newtown go area author’s books

‘Grandma’s Garden,’ a childhood tale sent to help with grieving

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Adams Central Community Schools administrator Holly Mishler knows what it’s like to grieve. Her father died when she was 19, and she and her siblings still struggle with the loss more than 20 years later, she said.

But Mishler hopes to turn that negative situation into a positive by writing a book to help children and families grieve and sharing her book with the community of Newtown, Conn., the site of a deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December.

The book, titled “Grandma’s Garden,” is about a little girl named Libby and her grandmother, who dies during the story. Libby finds a way to honor her grandmother by continuing traditions they shared together like keeping a garden. Libby goes on to share those traditions with her own grandchildren.

The story’s characters are based on Mishler’s family members, particularly her husband’s grandma, whom Mishler forged a close bond with before her death a couple of years ago.

Mishler originally wrote the book to give to her mother-in-law but was encouraged by a co-worker, and the book’s illustrator, to publish the book. The book was released in early November.

“Writing the book, for me, has been a great healing process,” Mishler said.

She hopes it can be used as a tool for grieving children and families to cope with and discuss death, and she decided at the urging of others to send her book to families in Newtown.

Teachers and employees at Adams Central, where Mishler is the English language and high-ability coordinator, donated money to send books to a local library in Newtown.

But because of a Facebook post about the fundraiser, Mishler received an overwhelming response from people who also wanted to help, she said.

So she organized an account online where people could donate money to pay to send her book to Newtown.

“The whole thing to me is still pretty unreal,” she said, of the outpouring of support for the project.

On Dec. 31, Mishler sent 100 of her books to the children’s librarian at C.H. Booth Library in Newtown, as part of the “Books Heal Hearts” project established by the library.

“Grandma’s Garden” is among nearly 30 books listed as available to the community through the program.

Mishler hopes to send more but is waiting to hear from the librarian that more books are needed.

She said it’s worth sending all those books, even if just one family is helped or touched by reading “Grandma’s Garden.”

Mishler raised about $1,400, according to the website she created; if no more books are needed, she said the funds will be sent to the library for the “Books Heal Hearts” project fund, she said.

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