by Susan Fotovich McCabe
Special to The Leaven
OVERLAND PARK — To the families of Holy Spirit School here, art teacher Hannah Lloyd Rosell is a celebrity. And they aren’t shy about asking Rosell to sign their copy of “Gladys the Grayish-Green Dragon,” the book she illustrated.
Rosell, 27, partnered with her cousin Ben Utter, who wrote the children’s book. The story about a dragon who doesn’t want to go to bed was published by Bowen Press and debuted last Dec. 1. It’s currently available on Amazon.
“Parents and children have been so sweet. I have read it in my classes,” Rosell said. “I want the kids to know that I walk the walk with art — I create as well.”
The charming tale of Gladys the dragon explains that her “scales weren’t red like the dragons of China, but old gravy gray-green, a color that’s kinda like lima beans plooped fresh right out of a can.”
The story of getting Gladys to bed each night is a familiar one to parents who struggle to get their children to brush their teeth and everything else associated with the nightly routine. While the book magically captivates children with its words, it is brought to life by Rosell’s illustrations.
“The kids give me their feedback on their favorite pictures in the book. Even middle schoolers are reading it,” Rosell said.
The school library has already ordered multiple copies. And Rosell is already working on her second book about a cat.
Rosell typically draws her illustrations in pencil first. She transforms them with ink and watercolor before repeating the ink, scanning it into the computer and editing the final drawing in Photoshop.
Rosell has been at Holy Spirit for three years. It was while she was planning her wedding that she learned about the opportunity to illustrate her first book. Her cousin had considered asking her directly, but worried it would interfere with the wedding planning. He posted a message on Facebook to say he was looking for an illustrator, never dreaming she would respond.
Rosell earned a bachelor’s in fine arts and a master’s in education from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. Having previously taught in a public school district, Rosell is a passionate advocate for the arts and in protecting them against looming budget cuts.
“Careers in art are the future,” she said. “It’s all about creating and thinking outside the box. Innovation is the job skill the workplace will need in the future, and art is innovation.”
While this is her first book, Rosell has put her talent to use in other ways, including helping students create posters for the annual Knights of Columbus vocation campaign. She also teaches ceramics classes at a local clay studio.
Rosell routinely promotes her students’ creations as well, posting their work on her website at: Rosellart.blog spot.com.