July 24, 2016

Partly cloudy

Longtime dream realized with children’s book

The creative team — from left, author Sidney Louis Fleishman, artist Jeanne Carr, graphics designer Tami Petitto, publisher Michelle Scotton and craft creator Melissa Jordan — at Lucky Missy Publishing of Medina attend the signing. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY DAVID KNOX)

Most people in their 70s are retired. Sidney Louis Fleishman is an exception. At 75, he’s just starting a career as the author of children’s books.

Fleishman quit his job as marketing director for Kichler Lighting in Cleveland four and a half years ago.

“My intention was to write more,” he said. “So I pulled it out of a drawer.”

“It” was a children’s tale, written in a simple four-line rhyme scheme, Fleishman had finished more than four decades earlier.

“It’s the story of Tommy,
That sad Christmas tree,
Who, with twenty years’ growth
Was just high as your knee.”

Fleishman knew what kinds of books appeal to children. Before his career in marketing, he had taught in the Philadelphia public schools for about four years.

But children’s books are more than words. They need colorful illustrations and graphics — and a publisher.

Fleishman, a resident of Strongsville, didn’t have to look far for help.

Michelle Scotton, of Medina Township, had worked as an interior designer for 20 years, but dreamed of publishing children’s books.

Scotton said she can trace her inspiration to a specific day — Feb. 9, 2012.

That was when her 3-year-old son, Connor, “looked at me and grabbed my face and said, ‘You’re so beautiful.’ ”

She said she always loved reading to her son and thought writing and publishing children’s books was a way to share that love.

Fortunately, she knew just where to find an author.

“Sid was my old boss from my designer days,” she said.

The artist, Jeanne Carr, was next to join the team.

Carr, a Medina resident, had studied art at the University of Akron. After her two boys were old enough to be in school all day, she jumped at Scotton’s offer to illustrate a children’s book.

“It was a great chance to use my degree,” she said.

The other two members of the team also are Medina residents: graphic designer Tami Petitto, who put all the pieces together, and Melissa Jordan, who came up with several “hands-on” craft projects featured in the book.

The product of their 18-month collaboration, “The Legend of Tommy the Tiny Christmas Tree,” came out last month.

The book is Lucky Missy Publishing’s first offering. But more are promised.

Fleishman said he has completed three other stories in “The Legend Series” on the holiday themes of Easter, Halloween and the Fourth of July.

“I’m writing another right now about Valentine’s Day,” he said.

Asked why he was devoting himself to children’s books, Fleishman said, “I felt there was a void — most children’s books didn’t make the child think.”

Fleishman said the message he wants to bring to children is that “there is a possibility to become something you want to be.”

So what’s the happy ending for Tommy, the knee-high Christmas tree nobody wanted?

“Tommy had found a home,
Yes, the best there could be,
For he now had become . . .
Santa’s elves’ Christmas Tree.”

Contact David Knox at (330) 721-4065 or dknox@medina-gazette.com.