Shaker Hts. Cleveland author, illustrator read ‘Stella’ in class

Clothilde Ewing and Lynn Gaines read their children’s bestseller “Stella Keeps the Sun Up” to Charles Dickens Elementary students.

CLEVELAND — An author who grew up in Shaker Heights and a Cleveland illustrator literally wrote the book about something every kid wants to do most nights — stay up after bedtime. The couple recently teamed up to introduce their new bestselling children’s book “Stella Keeps the Sun Up” to students at our adoptive school Charles Dickens Elementary in Cleveland.

“Stella” revolves around a wonderfully awesome shot of a 6-year-old girl with glasses and afro puffs. She tries everything from offering coffee from the sun to jumping on a trampoline to try and push the sun higher in the sky so the sun never sets and therefore she never has to set. .

“It’s a celebration of childish logic. Children who say to themselves ‘ok, I always have to go to bed when it’s dark. If only I could keep the sun out, then I could be up all day,” said author Clothilde Ewing.

Ewing and illustrator Lynn Gaines recently read “Stella” to Dickensian students.

“I went to school in Cranwood, which is not too far from here. It’s like a chance to give back home, which is really nice,” Gaines said.

It was also an opportunity for the Dickensian children to meet a real-life author and renowned local artist who looks like them.

“Representation was really important to me when I thought about our children. As a mother of two black children, I was struck by how few books had happy black characters,” Ewing said.

“I wanted my children to enjoy reading and get lost in their imaginations…and I wanted books that reflected that imagination and that joy. I’m glad children like mine can see their image reflected in a story like this” , Ewing said.

And this image – Stella – lovingly sketched locally, inspired the Dickens children through illustration.

“It’s important that our children see that they can do and be whatever they want, if they apply themselves. They don’t have to be limited to certain things. It’s like hearing children, like ‘Wow! I can draw for a living and they’ll pay me? It’s like, ‘Yeah, they will. You just have to practice this and apply yourself as you would any other job and you box do it,” Gaines said.

The Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank purchased copies of “Stella” for all Dickensian students to take home. “Stella Keeps the Sun Up” is number one on Amazon’s list of African-American children’s storybooks.

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