Some people reach for the stars, but characters in a local author’s book reach for the sun, the moon and the stars, with an altruistic purpose — to give them a mighty good scrubbing.

by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Author Marilyn Lawrence offers advice to Brianna Gelow, left, and Liana Tarasenko. And because the author, Marilyn Lawrence, feels that her life’s work is to support young people, she asked art students at Clackamas High School to enter a competition to illustrate her children’s book, “I Gave the Sun a Bath.”

She calls the book “an environmentally conscious motivational book for children,” saying she feels her calling is “teaching young children that they can do anything they want to do. This is a hugely important message.”

The lesson in this book is that if “we work together and give the sun, moon and stars a bath, then we can give the world a bath,” Lawrence said.

by: ELLEN SPITALERI - Zoe Clegg re-thinks how to arrange her illustration.Lawrence has lived in Happy Valley for five years, so she felt it was a natural fit to contact Bonnie Kayser, the art teacher at CHS, to see if students would be interested in a competition to illustrate the book.

“Bonnie was excited to incorporate this into her classroom work. I appreciate her eagerness for this opportunity for her art students,” Lawrence said.

She added, “Sometimes parents say that art is not going to pay, but I’m glad to show students if they love something they should stay with it.”

Earlier this year, Lawrence paid a visit to Kayser’s classroom and read the book to her students. Twenty-five students signed up for the competition; 13 have stayed involved.

The art students have until the end of April to finish their entries. Then Lawrence and a panel of judges will select three winners, who will get cash prizes. The first-place winner will have the opportunity to illustrate “I Gave the Sun a Bath.” All the winners will be announced during an assembly in June.

“This is a real-world opportunity for students. It is one of the ways that art can be applied to real life and you can earn a living in a viable way,” Kayser said.

“It is so exciting. The art world is changing, and we are becoming more and more of a visual culture. The opportunities to make a living in art are expanding.”

Personal styles emerge

The students were given the criteria for the competition, and Kayser helped them get started.

The students are coming up with their own interpretations of the book and using a variety of mediums, such as pastels, pencils and watercolors.

Nine of the 13 students in the competition were hard at work last week in one of Kayser’s art classes.

Zoe Clegg, 17, working on an intricate, multicharacter design in colored pencil, was told by Lawrence and Kayser that she needed to be aware of the placement of her illustration on the page.

“I wanted to do a playful scene with a lot of things going on at once, but there is some concern about the gutter” that goes down the center of the page, she said.

Thinking about what it would be like to give the sun a bath, where there is no bathtub, led Harley Elliott, 17, to engage her imagination.

“I always thought about illustrating a children’s book, and this is a great opportunity to see what it would be like,” she said.

Brianna Gelow, 17, was excited to enter the competition, noting that “all my work is bright and cheerful, so the colors related to my style.”

Working in watercolors and crayon, Johanna Hausmann, 17, said, “It has always been a dream of mine to illustrate a children’s book,” and Tessa Layton, 15, added that the competition “opened a door to what the adult world looks like, with real responsibilities.”

Carly Musser, 17, said she usually is not a person to go out on a limb, but thought it “would be cool to do an illustration giving the sun a bath,” while Alexa Short, 18, said it was “always a good experience to try new things, and it is fun.”

Liana Tarasenko, 16, said she has always loved children’s books, and said the competition is giving her “real-life experience.”

Hannah Tubbergen, 16, said she entered the competition because “illustrations in a children’s book are crucial to the story and make the feel of the story come to life.”

Gabrielle Gray, Tina Kuang, Rachel Norton and Jessaly Riggins also are participating in the competition.

More books in works

“I Gave the Sun a Bath” will be Lawrence’s third book, when it comes out at the end of this year.

Her first, “From Pink to Blue,” is written around the theme of supporting children’s purposes in life, as soon as they’re born.

“Everyone has a different colored thread, and when they are woven together, they become a beautiful quilt,” Lawrence said.

Her most recently released book, “On An Angel’s Wing,” is a collection of “real-life angel stories,” she said, adding that she is thinking about doing a second compilation of angel experiences.

Her fourth book, “A Donavan Memory,” is a bit of a departure in that it is “a spiritual romance, aimed at a really broad audience.”

The book, set for publication in 2015, is about a woman who has to reinvent her life. She relocates and meets an elderly woman who shares the wealth of her experience.

As Lawrence revisited Kayser’s classroom last week, she was impressed by the different interpretations of her book and the different styles students were using in their illustrations.

She added, “I am so thrilled to have an opportunity to do this. Anyone who is in a position to help students or children helps set the foundation for greatness to come.”

Lawrence’s books are available on her website,, and through and at Barnes & Noble.

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