If first-time author Frances Baker gets her way, a series of illustrations done by political science major Justine Kasznica ’03 soon will be seen by youngsters around Connecticut.
Kasznica spent the last year illustrating the children’s book “Allakazam Allakazu,” which was published this summer by a local press called Possibilities Publishing. The book will be sold locally, and Kasznica said it eventually will be available at the Yale Bookstore. Kasznica added that Baker is trying to set up readings at local bookstores, libraries and elementary schools.
When Baker, a special education teacher and resident of Milford, decided to write her first children’s novel, Kasznica agreed to illustrate the work.
“It was like my release,” Kasznica said about the time she spent in her dorm cutting, pasting and sketching in order to create the illustrations for the book.
Although Kasznica’s art education goes no further than a high school AP class, she designed nine different plates, including the cover, for the book.
The short children’s poem that Kasznica illustrated stresses that a positive attitude can take a person far in life. Kasznica said she used this theme to help her spice up the traditional cartoon-like drawings.
“Because positive thinking is such an abstract subject, I decided to use backgrounds with geometric shapes and color,” Kasznica said. “I tried to capture the specific characters and convey the spirit of the poem while inspiring curiosity in a child.”
“Allakazam Allakazu” is the first attempt at a children’s story by Baker, who owns the “Sugar Magnolia” candy store on Chapel Street.
Kasznica said that Baker is an entrepreneur who worked hard to get the book published. She added that Baker gave her considerable latitude as an illustrator.
“It was really nice how she let me do my own thing,” Kasznica said.
The plot of the book centers on two children on a playground. The girl is hiding something in one of her hands, and the boy is trying to guess which hand she is holding it in.
Ultimately, the boy uses the power of positive thinking to choose the correct hand.
Kasznica said she thoroughly enjoyed the illustrating process and would like to illustrate more books.
For now, she is concentrating on writing and illustrating what she called “a classical civilization children’s book.”