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Author shares Guelph's magic in new children's book

Maggie’s Treasure tells the story of a child who sees beauty and creativity in little things

The magic in Guelph streets felt so real that a well-known Guelph author wrote a book about it. 

After his book Tokyo Digs a Garden won a Governor General award in 2016, Jon-Erik Lappano released Maggie’s Treasure, a story inspired by his daughters Maia, 9, Amelia, 6, and Ella, 3 who loved going on adventures and finding treasures in their Guelph neighbourhood.

“They loved finding treasures on walks and in the parks,” said Lappano about his daughters. 

“Their coat pockets would be filled daily with bits and pieces of things and their drawers would eventually be overflowing with plastic and feathers and sticks and stones.”

Released by Groundwood Books on Sept. 1 and illustrated by Kellen Hatanaka, Maggie’s Treasure tells the story of a child who turns her passion for collecting treasures into something for her community.

Lappano said for the average person who sees the collection of items, they think of chaos, but for kids, that's magic and sparkle.  

“I wrote this story because I thought it was fun to play with the idea that children experience the world through a lens of imagination and creativity but how the rest of the world as parents, we tend to impose limits on that,” said Lappano. 

“There’s a lot we can learn from kids in terms of how we deem the world around us.

Lappano said it's important to foster creativity in children because it allows them to see the world through a lens of appreciation, and it also allows them to develop their creative minds in a world where technology is widely used. 

“There is a lot that’s alive in the world around us that can really bring creativity and joy if we give it that space and time,” said Lappano. 

Before moving back to his hometown of Stratford in February, Lappano lived in Guelph for six years near St. George’s Anglican Church. He said the girls would often find painted stones in their neighbourhoods. 

Even after they moved to Stratford, Lappano said his daughters still have treasure boxes filled with items they stumbled upon in Guelph. 

“Sometimes our little communities are pretty exciting places,” he said. 

Lappano wrote the book two and a half years ago, long before the pandemic, but given the present circumstances where people are increasingly spending time outdoors with their family, he hopes his book can offer ideas on how families can spend time together.

Among many children’s books  Lappano read as a child, he said his most memorable one is Maurice Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are

“There are so many books that I still think about to this day,” said Lappano. 

“I think that's the beauty of a really good book, that it will stay with you for the rest of your life.”

He said he hopes his stories resonate with people. “Certainly if a book stays with someone, I feel like I will have accomplished something great,” said Lappano. 

He said the greatest joy for him is reading his book to people, particularly his daughters because it's an incredibly special experience.  

“It allows us all to slow down and have a shared experience,” said Lappano.

The book is available for purchase in bookstores across Canada, however, Lappano encourages those interested in purchasing the book to support their local bookstores. 

“I always try to plug the independent bookstores if possible,” said Lappano.