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South Salem Painter Makes Children's Books Into Works Of Art

South Salem artist Leslie Connito has published five children's books and is at work on a sixth. Photo Credit: Submitted
Leslie Connito considers her children's books to be more like art books. Photo Credit: Submitted
South Salem resident Leslie Connito has written five children's books, among them "The Magic Drum." Photo Credit: Submitted

SOUTH SALEM, N.Y. -- Leslie M. Connito , a longtime painter, has turned her love of poetry and her talent for brushstrokes, into five children's books, one of which is set in South Salem, where she lives.

"The Wild-Out Animal Alphabet Book," "The Magic Drum," and "The Story of Ticklemino," were created and illustrated in a drawn out form for Connito's two daughters when they were young and just published this past summer. Her two e-books; "Word Sound Onomatopoeia" and "Word Sound Everyday," were made side by side in a two-week period in June.

Connito considers the books more like art books for children with paintings rather than illustrations. As for what they're about,  "The Wild-Out Animal Alphabet Book" is a whimsical picture book that uses poetry and paintings of hidden animals to teach kids to search for the meaning in a story -- and in life. The pictures are made with swirls of paint.

"The Magic Drum," on the other hand, is a story about a lonely boy who finds an old drum in his attic. This simple drum begins to change his world, and in turn, he changes the world around him unknowingly by bringing his community together through the music he plays. The illustrations swim in and out of a real-life and a dream world.

"They are combined mixed media drawings and paintings with photographs that contain repetition and humor," said Connito. "I used this approach for the illustrations because the story to me weaves in and out of reality."

"The Story of Ticklemino" is the only book that takes place in South Salem. Connito said her girls found the story more realistic when they were little because it took place close to home. It's a story about a hand that goes around tickling kids at night and leaves a perpetual smile on their faces during the day, she explained. The pictures are mixed media and it reads like a legend that might be told by an older resident.

Now that those five are done, Connito is busy working on her next venture: a mystery dinner party called "Murder in Madrid" which will be performed in late December at her home with nine John Jay High School students. (Her youngest daughter is a senior there; her other daughter is in college).

"Their nutty characters were drawn from their personalities and the 'play' was written specifically for them, and especially for our dear friend Ana who will be staying with us over the holidays from Madrid," said Connito. She is also at work on another children's book about a goose that always seems to get things wrong.

In addition, she will be teaching drawing and painting at the Ridgefield, Conn. Continuing Education program in the winter and spring.

The books can be viewed on Amazon, and Ingram Worldwide Distributers and can be found in the Westchester Library System and at the Ridgefield Library.

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