Stamford’s Karen Piersa needed to find an illustrator when her book, “The Wishing Shell,” got the go ahead to be published. Not knowing anyone suitable, she asked her sons’ art teacher Susan Ramsey at Springdale Elementary School, whether she knew anyone.

“What about me?” Ramsey said. That's how their partnership started. The art teacher was in unchartered territory — "The Wishing Shell" was her first book. Ramsey had to learn how to make her drawings go with the words on the page, instead of having her art go with her feelings. It took her about six weeks to finish all the beach scenes and sandcastle illustrations for the book. “I was trying my best to depict what the words said,” she said, explaining the process.

Piersa said, “I gave Sue quite the challenge.” Piersa has told to her kids the story of "The Wishing Shell" over and over while on the beach in summer. It is about Jimmy, who tries to build the perfect sandcastle and never gives up.

She never intended to turn the story into a book, but she wrote it down one day. Only at her sons' urging did she attempt to get it published. “And here I am today,” Piersa said.

The book was officially released in March, and the two held an author and illustrator night at Springdale that week. It has been well received by parents, Piersa says. Ramsey’s students have also enjoyed it, especially the “Where’s Waldo?” aspect she added by hiding her initials in the artwork on every page.

Although the two are unsure of what the future holds for their book careers, Piersa’s sons are once again pushing her to write another one.

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