What does a high energy person do when she retires after forty years of teaching? Shary Williamson created the world of the Woodland Elves. What started as writing one book for each of her grandchildren, became much more. A team of three friends created the five-book series, which includes Shary Williamson as the author, Jay Johnston as the illustrator, and Russ Kendall as the creative coordinator. In March of 2020, the last book — The Woodland Elves: Fantasy In The Forest was released.
Each of the books —The Woodland Elves, The Secret in the Forest, Buried Treasure, The Magical Tale of Winter along with the new book, conveys important messages on every page that children and adults can discover and discuss. These positive messages include:
- One person, one group, or even one small idea has the power to help create a better, kinder, gentler, more joyful, more loving, and more peaceful world.
- We are ONE in this world together. In a world of technology, focusing on the importance of relationships is critical.
- Honoring the forest, appreciating nature, and being environmentally active is a responsibility not to be taken lightly.
- Life is meant to be enjoyed. Don’t settle for less. The elves are a reservoir of joy that tries to ripple out to everyone because joy is contagious
- The power of the imagination knows no boundaries and it must never die.
- It is important to encourage children to let wonder prevail.
Shary shared for the team, “We hope that each word, each illustration, and each song, will put a smile in the hearts of the readers.”
Multi-generations share in the fun of the books that are available locally through the Marion Flower Shop, Home Again Stained Glass, or by calling Shary personally at 740.225.8391. Her website – www.woodlandelves.com, has a wealth of free activities as does her personal Facebook page with new weekly adventures, like coloring pages.
The world of the elves have taken Shary, Jay, and Russ in so many directions they never expected. They have video conferenced with teachers, students, and families from around the world. There have been presentations at art galleries, museums, schools, churches, service organizations, and more. The books have reached ninety-two countries around the world. In the last two books, there are QR codes on each page so children, as well as students learning English, could hear Shary reading the books. A musical CD, an enchanted village, a literacy adventure book, a ¼ mile trail adventure, a card game, and bookmarks made in Guatemala have all been added to the Woodland Elves world. This has brought visitors to Marion from around the world.
Shary revealed just a few Woodland Elves secrets.
- She starts each book with the ending and then works backwards.
- On every page of the books, there is an elf; some are just harder to find.
- The blondish-haired grandchildren represent Shary and her husband David’s real grandchildren and the brunette is Jay Johnston’s daughter.
- The elves and fairies in this 5-book series exist in The One & Only Forest, located in Marion, Ohio.
These are just a few of the hundreds of secrets the books hold. She, Jay, and Russ plan on disclosing more at a later date.
The original book idea came from Shary’s love of nature and books, both of which she learned from her family. Her mother would read to her nightly. Her favorite book, at six, was The Giant Golden Book of Elves & Fairies.
Her childhood home had a beautiful forest, which became a magical place for her. Each Sunday after church, the family would take an adventure to discover other woodland places nearby. Her mother, father, and grandparents loved nature and had different ways to interact with it. But it was the time spent together as a family that Shary treasured the most.
When asked if she had three wishes what she would want, Shary replied:
- “I would wish to always be grateful for everything and everyone and never take anything for granted.”
- “I would wish that in some small way, our lives have improved the world a little bit.”
- *JOY is one of the best legacies to leave for our children and grandchildren so I would wish that together, we have created something beautiful and inspiring that could last forever and continue to pass the joy of life around.”
A group of sentiments we all could share in a world that is seeing so many things to challenge us all.