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Write On Ottawa: The charitable pumpkin fairy

By Alejandro Bustos on July 17, 2015

Fairy tales come in all shapes and sizes, including those stories whose magic can extend into the real world.

Let me explain: Ottawa-based author Suzanne Stoltz is the creative force behind Sophie the Pumpkin Patch Fairy, a cute children’s book that describes a special trip to a pumpkin patch that reveals a kind fairy.

What makes this book special, however, is its charitable heart.  More specifically, for every copy of the book that is sold, a part of the proceeds go to Elimu, an Ottawa-based charity run by volunteers that promotes children’s education in Africa.

“Elimu has given more back to me than I can ever give,” writes Stoltz in an email.  “I started out helping my friend (the founder) Ms. Nina Chung plan some events and it grew from there.  My writing helps by giving back to Elimu with every book sold.”

The charity’s name comes from the Swahili word for education, which is a fitting moniker for an organisation dedicated to the advancement of children’s learning.  (Elimu currently has four projects in Kenya).

“I love that my children’s books are helping with early literacy here and to fund education for Kenyan children,” says Stoltz.  “I am thrilled to be able to tie two of my passions together.”

With her extensive background in communications, Stoltz sits on Elimu’s advisory board.  In this capacity, she provides strategic advice on program development, social media interaction and fundraising.

As for her writing side, she was inspired to become an author from her own experience as a parent.

“It was more about having an activity to wind my kids down at bed time and self-preservation as a parent!” says Stoltz.  “My first book Five Loons was based in reality (like Sophie).  I was visiting a cottage when the kids were 2 and 4.  I made up the story about the loons going to bed so that they’d settle down for bedtime. I love children’s stories because they are simple and authentic.”

As for the illustrations, she only has high praise for her collaborator, New Zealand artist Yulia Potts.

“I fell in love with Yulia’s portfolio the second I opened it,” she says.  “Out of about 60 applicants I knew she was the one to do Sophie. . . .  I loved every minute working with her. The time difference (Canada to New Zealand) actually made it more fun.  I’d wake up to an inbox with a new image. It was like Christmas every day.”

Stoltz tells Apartment613 that Elimu will be having their 3rd annual BBQ fundraiser on Saturday, August 8 from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm.  There will be burgers, hot dogs, a kids lemonade stand and autographed copies of Sophie the Pumpkin Patch Fairy, which will be raffled off.  The event takes places at M&M Meat Shop in Manotick at 5530 River Rd (across from Tim Hortons at Bridge St).