‘A Story of Hope’: A local author publishes a children’s book that presents death as a normal part of life

A native of Illinois, Susan Resing was introduced to a new way of thinking after receiving her master’s degree in liberal studies from Bradley University.

Exploring quantum physics, theory, and philosophy, the idea of ​​interconnectedness changed the way she saw the world and served as the inspiration for a bucket list item she’s always had: writing a children’s book.

“So on the smallest level, you know, without atomic… There are no divisions, no difference between you, me, the table, the window, the tree outside. And it really changed how I saw the world. It made me feel more connected, less judgmental. , and I have more sympathy,” Racing explained.

This new essential renter herself inspired her to quit her job, start her own business, and create a children’s book that focuses on the circle of life, and the interconnectedness of people. She completed her first draft in 1998.

“I thought it was a really great way to share ideas in a simple way. At the time, I was working with a really great designer and illustrator that I had worked with in the publishing world. Her name is Missy Schipper. And I agreed to do some illustrations for my draft. The draft just flowed,” Racing said. It seemed like a normal thing.”

Although the initial process was quite smooth, the self-publishing industry had yet to take off, and the pressures of finding a publisher and even an agent to do so was overwhelming for Racing. Thus the book remained on the shelf for more than twenty years.

“My new business is taking off and I just said, ‘Well, it’s not the time. “

Fast forward to March 2020, and the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the way people around the world live and work on a daily basis. In a time of anxiety, anguish and confusion, Racing knew there was something to be done.

“I kept thinking, I want to do something to help others. And I remember hearing a story about some kids who actually lost their parents to COVID, and how terrifying that is, to not understand this strange disease that none of us understood and then lose your parents.”



Susan Racing

At the same time, Racing found its solace in audiobooks. after reading”exaggerationBy Richard Powers, which includes 12 interconnected stories about trees and their plight on the earth, states A TED Talk By ecologist Susan Simard on the way trees communicate with each other, Racing has been called back to her children’s book.

“This humble little book that I have never done. And so I dusted it off,” said Racing.

“Lola and the Tree of Life” follows a young girl named Lola and her dog Skye, named after the Corgi Reising she lost shortly before the outbreak of the pandemic. Lola forms a deep connection with the Tree, similar to the giant oak found at Peoria’s Giant oak garden.

Lola realizes that her grandfather, Bobby, is ill and may be dying. She struggles to understand what this could mean for her, her family, and Bobby. One day, Lola turns to Trey for her wisdom. Here is an excerpt from the book regarding what the tree says:

“People are part of nature, too,” Trey said softly. Poppy has lived a wonderful life and given so much to many. When Poppy dies, he will simply move on to another way of being. Even though this life will be different from the one you know now, you will always be in your heart. And everything he shared will live on in you. “

Lola sat on the grass with Skye taking wisdom from Trey. “‘truly?’ “Yes,” said Trey. “You and I and Bobby and Skye—and all things—are part of something greater. We may seem separate, but we are all connected together in ways that sometimes we just can’t see.”


Susan Racing



Book cover and interior of “Lola and the Tree of Life”

Racing noted that while some might see this as a story about loss, they view it differently.

“I would say it’s a story about hope,” she said. “It’s about the hope that comes from understanding the bonds we share with people and with nature.”

Racing added that while the book can be considered spiritual, it is not religious in nature.

“I tried to leave it broad enough that if the family had religious beliefs that they wanted to share with the child, they could put it in the book… So, I want people to feel free to believe what they believe in. I hope this helps them convey an important message without making them feel that they are tied,” Racing explained.

on books websiteThere are fun activities that kids can handle, like coloring pages and word searches. There are also resources for adults.

“You’ll find questions that children might ask after hearing the book or reading the book, and some very simple answers that you can give them, you know, age-appropriate answers. And then there are also some other conversation starters that you might want to talk about with your kids while you’re on a topic. Loss or death.”

In general, you hope that children and parents understand that death does not have to be a scary topic, and that the relationships we have with one another continue.




Missy Schipper, illustrator of “Lola and the Tree of Life”

She said, “I think experiencing loss without a framework for it can be very stressful, and devastating in some ways. So, I feel that if children have a framework for understanding death, and it doesn’t blind them, it can help them process that.”

She also emphasized that the book would not have been possible without the beautiful illustrations from Missy Shepler.

“At every turn, it made the illustrations better than I thought possible…itself really in line with nature, and so it sees all those little details. And it manages to represent those in the pages of the book and really bring Lola and the Tree of Life to life, and so I owe her a great deal of gratitude.”

You can find the book on multiple platforms, including AmazonAnd the Walmartand the book website.

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