Byline: Daniel J. Johnson Daily Herald Correspondent
Where do those dry leaves go after the autumn gusts whip them across your lawn or swirl them up in tiny tornadoes against a wall?
Dawn Desjardins of Libertyville pondered those questions. As she drove her two daughters to school in the mornings, she noticed the leaves around them. When she came home, she wrote stories.
At other times, she took pictures and painted in water colors what she had seen. Finally, Desjardins wrote and illustrated a book. It is her first. "The Autumn Marathon." And she published it herself in November.
Desjardins's Libertyville neighborhood inspired the story's setting, though she says her "Autumn Marathon" actually takes place everywhere. Friends in her native upstate New York see their own towns reflected in the book. And the title itself was inspired by her husband's running in the Chicago marathon. So, naturally, there is a lot of motion in her book.
"That was paramount to me, the whole idea of motion," Desjardins said. "The leaves ... how intriguing ... they just take on a life of their own. Children are full of motion. How better to relate to them than to just be kinetic? Life is full of motion."
From sunrise to sunset, the story follows the travels of different leaves as they go about their business, often interacting with people in surprising ways. Meanwhile, on each page spread, a vivid background color matches the mood of the text or the vignette depicted in the illustration on the opposite page.
"It was important for me to not have Joe Leaf go from one end of town to the other because it was too connected and life's not that way," she said. "Life is, 'Heartbreak is happening over here,' and, 'Joy is happening over here.' So I really didn't want any one leaf being the (main) character. I wanted just life. Anytown, USA. Any leaf. Any person moving. I just wanted that kind of freedom."
The 43-year-old career mom and homemaker wrote the 33-page, hard-back book for children in general. …