The Putnam Examiner

Putnam Author Launches First Book

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Helene Sola with her husband Adolfo Grieg

On a chilly night this past Tuesday in Cold Spring, Putnam-based first time children’s author Helene Sola held a party to raise money for the Mid Hudson Animal Aid Shelter in Beacon and to launch her first book, “Loo Loo and the Fabulous Marvelous RexxaRoo.”

The book features a lonely little girl named Loo Loo. When Loo Loo wears a pair of orange, swirly socks, a cat named Rexxaroo appears, giving her the courage and confidence to make friends. The book leaves open the question of whether the cat is real or an imaginary friend. When Loo Loo’s mother donates the socks along with other clothes Loo Loo has outgrown, “she wigs out a little bit, but Dad saves the day,” Sola said. “They go to a shelter and they adopt a cat that looks just like her Rexxaroo.”

The story is based on Sola’s childhood experiences, growing up in a rough neighborhood inJamaica,Queens. “My mom was very hesitant to let me out alone to play,” Sola said. “So I was alone a lot, afraid sometimes to be by myself. I used to hide under the bed. We weren’t allowed to have dogs in the apartments but if I would have had a cat or something to keep me company I think it would have made a big difference.

“As soon as I moved out I actually got three cats.”

After writing the original manuscript, Sola got in touch with renowned children’s author and Cold Spring resident Jean Marzollo, best known for I Spy series. Sola sent an an email introducing herself, explaining that she’s a nurse at Vassar Brothers Hospital without any experience in the book publishing world. Marzollo wrote her back offering to read the manuscript.

“As exciting as it was it was pretty scary because if she thought that it stunk I would probably not be here,” Sola said. “She was so encouraging and she really liked the story and the craft ideas I had to go along with the book.”

Mrs. Marzollo was in attendance to support the book.

“It’s a fabulous book and I gave her some advice,” Marzolla said. “She took the advice and it happened so quick because it’s a fabulous book.”

“She gave me a project to do and offered to meet me like six weeks later,” Sola said. “She wanted me to show her the projects and she couldn’t believe I did it. She said so many people approach her and I’m the first one of many that actually wasn’t scared off by the amount of work.”

“Usually you give advice and you never hear again,” Marzolla said.

This book is the first of what Sola plans to be a series, each book containing a special lesson. When asked what the lesson of the first book is, Sola said, “Just the care and love of animals and what they can give back to you. The kind of mutual respect. And it’s a lesson about friends, and friendship, and family.”

Sola’s family were there to support her, including daughter Lauren, whose appearance when she was eight served as the basis for the illustration of Loo Loo.

“It’s slightly overwhelming,” Lauren said, when asked about being the source for Loo Loo. “Overall, I’m honored, and I’m proud of my mother.”

“Loo Loo and the Fabulous Marvelous RexxaRoo” and related craft kits can be purchased at Kismet at Caryns in Cold Spring, Echo Boutique in Beacon, Oblong Books or Land of Oz in Rhinebeck, or at  Mid Hudson Animal Aid is a no-kill cat sanctuary located at54 Simmons Lane, Beacon.

By Larry Miles

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