Orchard Park artist Heather Lynn Harris struggled with her feelings after learning her 24-year-old niece, Nicole Diane Miller-Harris, had died of a drug overdose last September in Los Angeles. More heartbreaking, she said, was watching her brother-in-law, sister-in-law and Nicole’s siblings explain the young woman’s passing to four nieces and a nephew – ages 2 to 6 – their aunt had left behind.
Harris hopes her new children’s book, “Clover and the Shooting Star,” sheds more light on such loss – for kids and adults.
“It’s really a book offering hope that those who we lose stay with us forever,” said Harris, 49, assistant professor of art communication at St. Bonaventure University.
Harris will launch the book and sign copies from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Chestnut Ridge Park Casino in Orchard Park. The gathering will include kids’ activities and visits by Clover the rabbit and his storybook friends. The book, which costs $10 and is published by Buffalo Heritage Press, also is available at cloverandtheshootingstar.com.
Q. Talk about the story. What is it about?
Clover looks up at the nighttime sky and he sees the most beautiful shooting star. And he goes to Mole and asks if he’s seen the shooting star. And Mole was in his house, deep in the earth, and did not see the shooting star. They run to Raccoon’s house and he didn’t see it because he had his head in an old tree looking for food. Clover goes to Possum and Possum says, “I didn’t see it because I was busy with my babies.” ... Finally, Clover’s crying because nobody has seen the shooting star and he hears the voice of Wise Owl above him. He says, “You’re wrong, somebody did see it, and he’s sharing the light with the whole world.” When you open the last page, you see the fireflies who have seen the shooting star and are carrying on the light of the shooting star so that no one would ever forget.
Q. How has the book been received by the family?
They paid me the greatest compliment when I presented books to them. We were gathered in memory of Nicole. Everybody opened the book together as a family and it delivered the therapeutic effect I was hoping it would. It was my way of saying, “I’m really sorry for your loss and I’m hoping I can give you some hope.”
– Scott Scanlon