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Local author’s first children’s book ‘Forever Blue’ offers a take on overcoming the loss of a beloved animal

Kenlyn Kolleen
Kenlyn Kolleen (left) with Maura Rassman-Gwiazda (right) at the Hart+Honey book signing in August 2022.
(Copyright of Kenlyn Kolleen)

Kenlyn Kolleen wrote her first children’s book after her close friend told her about a dream in which the friend’s beloved dog, Blue, a mini-Australian shepherd, passed away.

“When I heard the dream I knew it was a children’s book and I was going to write it,” said Kolleen, an Encinitas resident.

The result of her efforts is “Forever Blue,” an illustrated children’s book that offers Kolleen’s take on loving an animal and then letting it go. The book was published in May by Fulton Books and is available at online booksellers as well as select local stores.

“When a dog dies it has such a profound effect because they represent unconditional love,” Kolleen said.

The story takes readers on a journey from Blue’s youth to old age, when she can no longer run and play and her eyesight is failing. As a treat for local readers, Kolleen included such iconic images as the Coaster train in the background of one scene, and Swamis in another.

The cover of “Forever Blue”
The cover of “Forever Blue”
(Copyright of Kenlyn Kolleen)

Later in the story, Blue appears before her owner in a dream and says it is time for her to go and she runs up the side of a mountain.

“There at the top, Blue finally reached her new home. Her body became one with the red rocks, and her spirit felt alive and free. She felt connected to everything around her – the rocks, the water, the earth, and the stars in the night sky. She was so happy. Her sight became clear, and she was aware of even the softest of sounds,” Kolleen wrote.

The dog dies a few days later, and Kolleen’s friend talks to her children about the loss and how they might meet Blue again in another form, such as a butterfly or another dog.

“This normalizes for children what they already know, that the spirit lives forever,” Kolleen said.

In a news release about the book, Kolleen wrote, “’Forever Blue’ is a deep but simple story that assists readers of every age to sweetly embrace that vastness of the journey of life and death. This book is for children ages 4 to 8 years, their parents, and anyone who has lost a beloved animal companion.”

Kolleen wrote the book with her co-author and friend – and also Blue’s “mom” - Maura Rassman-Gwiazda. The book was illustrated by Lena Gardelli.

Inside “Forever Blue”
Inside “Forever Blue”
(Copyright of Kenlyn Kolleen)

The project began as a labor of love. Kolleen said she collected donations from friends during the pandemic to pay for the illustrations as a birthday gift for Rassman-Gwiazda at a planned online celebration.

“When I saw the illustrations I realized I had to up my game,” Kolleen said, and instead of self-publishing the book as she’d originally intended, she began to seek a publisher.

Kolleen said she’d like to see the book reach a broad audience to help people overcome what to many is “a deep fear of death.”

When she’s not writing children’s books, Kolleen is a women’s empowerment coach, who leads retreats, runs women’s leadership and empowerment circles and coaches women privately. She is the author of “The Art of Turning 50: A Woman’s Guide to a Radiant, Authentic Life.”

Inside “Forever Blue”
Inside “Forever Blue”
(Permission of Kenlyn Kolleen)

Kolleen’s interests and pastimes include walking on the beach with her dogs, traveling and learning about bio-hacking or reverse aging. Her next project includes creating audio books about the empowerment work she does with women, and she’s also like to do a TED talk about “Forever Blue,” including anecdotes she wasn’t able to include in the book.

“I love to be inspired to make art out of what life hands me,” she said.

“Forever Blue” is available at Hart + Honey, 583 S. Coast Highway 101, Encinitas.


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