The Story Behind Sara Dippity

I hesitated to share the story behind this project, but to be completely honest, I guess I need to share. Sara Dippity goes so far beyond a simple children’s story. In truth, the story embraces my continuing struggle with religion and how God fits in the big picture.

When Dad died, I was devastated. While I knew he was ill, I was not expecting his death. On May 5, 2006, I went out on our front porch to begin the many calls to family and friends to announce his passing. Within my first few minutes on the porch, a male cardinal joined me. I didn’t think much of it at first, but in the days that followed, a male cardinal continued to join me on the porch each time.

In the months that passed, I began to look for the bird. I was not disappointed. It didn’t matter where I went, front porch or back porch; he showed up. Over the summer of 2006, his presence became healing for me.

Throughout that summer, I began to ponder how nature joins with faith. One friend even remarked how that cardinal was like Serendipity. Hence, the story took shape.

I wanted the story to center around the simple explorations of a child as my journey was so simple, healing, and peaceful. I have enjoyed my journey with Mary Kate as we completed our project, and I hope that this story will help children who have lost a loved one find peace and healing in the nature that surrounds them.


Granaw-Margaret Stewart Roche

Mary Kate and I dedicated Sara Dippity to two very special people; one of these special women is my grandmother, Margaret Stewart Roche (Granaw). Granaw was one of those special women who was a quiet yet powerful presence. She was raised in the mining camps of Leadville, CO, in the early 20th century. Only reaching an 8th grade education, Granaw shared much more than a formal education could offer. She gifted grace, simplicity, loyalty, and love to all around her. It was a treat growing up, driving to Detroit Metro Airport to pick her up and enjoy her company for six months each year. One of my favorite memories was when my father banned us from watching “The Simpsons” every Sunday on TV, but she quietly told me, “Just come up to my room, Maggie. You can watch it with me.” It was humorous to see Dad’s face when he saw what Granaw and I were doing and see Dad concede to his mother. Chad and I in college also considered it an honor to make her weekly run to Broad St. for her favorite night cap, Cream Sherry.  I also am blessed to have that small, worn Bible that she carried and read from each day.  I still love to unwind the old rubber band, holding it together, and see the picture of Grandad and study the scraps of paper with memorable quotes and highlighted passages.  She was that calming and peaceful presence in so many people’s lives. I miss her! Love you, Granaw!

Mary Kate Murphy, the illustrator for Sara Dippity

Mary Kate Murphy is a 5th grader at St. Rose of Lima Catholic School. While her older brothers’ artistic traits tend to be musical, Mary Kate has always shown promise as an artist. From an early age, I would frequently find pictures on the back of anything she could get her hands on, receipts, spelling tests, and even a few places I wish she would have avoided (the wall in her closet and a few of my students’ assignments).

I want to take a moment to thank Laura Valentine for working with MK through the years. Laura, you made the artistic process fun and educational at the same time. Every child should have a safe and memorable place away from home to develop independence and make friends who share similar interests. Laura’s Heart Studio is one of those special places.

Sara Dippity

My daughter, Mary Kate, and I have been discussing a book project for many years now. I asked her to create illustrations for my story.  She just finished her final drawing last night, and our book is finally ready to go to print!

Sara Dippity is the story of a young girl who is struggling with the loss of a loved one. The story centers around this young girl’s adventures in her own back yard and shares how her time spent enjoying nature and time spent with God’s creatures can be healing.

This book will be available beginning May 5, 2012.