What happens to lost balloons? What are the 26 most interesting letters in the alphabet? How does Santa Claus find presents his elves can’t make?
Intriguing questions all — particularly if you’re a kid.
Ellen Sandhaus answers them all in 5 colorful children’s picture books. And she does it bilingually.
The Westport native and 1970 Staples graduate — a studio art major at Smith College who went on to write novels, screenplays and teleplays — read somewhere bout Andy Warhol’s club and house band, both called the Balloon Farm. She thought it would make a great title for a kid’s book.
She wrote the story — then found the title was already in use. So she changed it to “Where Do Lost Balloons Go?” (Answer: to a balloon farm.) She then added “The Runaway Balloon,” the same story from the balloon’s point of view.
Her father — at whose ad agency Ellen was working — suggested adding a Spanish format, for a wider audience.
So she wrote “26 of the Most Interesting Letters of the Alphabet,” and “Stop Rhyming!” That one is about a boy who stops rhyming only after getting advice from Dr. Seuss and Mother Goose (ouch).
Ellen finished 5 books. Osvaldo Blanco — a translator teaching at NYU — took the English rhyming verse, and kept the tone and rhythm in Spanish. It wasn’t easy, but the results speak for themselves.
The books have been in front for over 10 years. When the first shipment arrived Ellen walked all over Spanish Harlem, showing them to childcare centers, tutoring halls and schools. They snapped them up.
Ellen’s client list now includes elementary schools and libraries across the country, book stores and teachers’ supply companies.
She volunteers for the New York schools’ “Read Aloud Program,” and enjoys participating in charity book fairs. “I’d love to hear about any school book fairs or charity events in Westport!” she adds.
(Ellen Sandhaus signs and inscribes book orders. Just email her at firstname.lastname@example.org — including the name she should sign the book to, and an address to ship it to. She’ll email back payment and shipping info. Her books are $4.95 each — just $20 for a set of 5.)