Sometimes closing the cover of a book can open up a wealth of opportunities to heal, love, and grow.
Ostriches Eat Sausages is a newly released children’s book by Robin Kelley – an art teacher at Halmstad Elementary in Chippewa Falls – after a culmination of nearly a decade of work. The book tells the story of a boy who takes an after-hours trip to the zoo and finds out what animals really eat when no one is around to see. The “long-time-coming” alphabet book was written and illustrated by Kelley over the past nine years, with the past two-and-a-half years being the toughest to complete.
The finished book is a tribute to Kelley’s 9-year-old daughter Jayna, who died in 2018 after a vehicle struck and killed Jayna, two of her fellow Girl Scouts, one of the Scout’s mothers, and injured another, while members of Troop 3055 were picking up trash on the side of the highway. Kelley said her daughter was always a supporter of her, and the book is a tribute to her lasting legacy.
“She was always pushing me and telling me I should be working on it,” she said. “When she passed away, I decided I needed to finish this for her in her honor. She would’ve wanted me to finish this and not just give up on it. I hope people enjoy the book, and the work that went into it, but I also hope they think of Jayna whenever they pick it up.”
Following the crash, Kelley and her husband Brian started the Jayna Kelley Foundation in the beginning of 2020 as a means to give back to the community. This effort, she said, shined a hopeful light on their family when times seemed too dark to come back from. Profits from the self-published book will go straight to the foundation in Jayna’s name.
“The community showed us how amazing they can be after we had this horrible tragedy happen,” Kelley said. “Some money came to us, and we wanted to use it to give back to the community. We’d like to help as many local kids as we can and continue to do that for as long as we can.”
Ostriches Eat Sausages is available at robinrkelley.com for local pickup or shipping, as well as from The Local Store (205 N. Dewey St., Eau Claire) and on Amazon.