“Daisy’s Tale” raises funds for animal shelter



“Daisy’s Tale” was written and self-published by Liz Hansen (left) and illustrated by Makaella Mitchell (right).

Oliver Wolfe, Staff Writer

“Daisy’s Tale” is a new “mostly true” children’s story written and self-published by Liz Hansen, program coordinator for collective impact in the office of community partnerships, planning and research, and illustrated by one of her former students, Makaella Mitchell.

The project began seven years ago during Hansen’s time as a teacher at Grinnell High School. Hansen started teaching a 12-week “capstone” class required for high-school seniors, in which the students were given the freedom to choose a topic that they were passionate about, conduct research and then present their findings. This was the first time that Hansen had taught the class, and she recalled experiencing nerves and a lack of confidence.

“Well, I’m teaching a class where I’m teaching kids how to do things that I’ve never done. And it’s scary, and I sometimes just feel like I don’t know what I’m doing,” Hansen said. “And then it hit me. I needed to do what I was teaching the students to do. I needed to not only teach the class, but be a student in my own classroom. And that set me on quite a journey that really changed my life.”

This is when Hansen — inspired by her one-year-old granddaughter, Harper, and her two beloved rescue pups, Daisy and Mabel — decided to conduct research on, and ultimately create, a children’s book. Hansen’s research into children’s literature resulted in her reading hundreds of children’s books, learning more about notable authors and having lots of conversations with readers of children’s literature. 

“I was truly binging on children’s literature. And then I did human research — I talked to parents, I talked to daycare providers […], I talked to elementary teachers and the best part of it, I talked to kids,” Hansen said.

Then, the project hit a pivotal moment. “And then I realized I needed an illustrator. I can’t draw!” Hansen said. “So that led me to Makaella.”

Makaella Mitchell was a high-school senior at the time, and she was coincidentally in Hansen’s capstone class. Hansen remembered discovering Mitchell’s artistic ability through that class.

 “I noticed that she carried a sketchbook, and I noticed that often during my class, she was drawing,” Hansen said.

Mitchell’s research project also alerted Hansen to her artistic and intellectual prowess — it combined color theory and women’s studies. “I thought about her because of her color theory project and the drawings I had seen, so I asked her if she would be my illustrator.” Hansen said.

From this point, “Daisy’s Tale” was in the rough-draft stage. Hansen was constantly revising her writing, and Mitchell was creating lots of illustrations. 

“I learned that writing for kids is hard,” Hansen said. “I learned I needed to write simple sentences and ideas.” 

Throughout the process, Hansen found that the structure of her own class — academic research alongside the final product — was quite productive for her. 

“Actually writing the research paper really helped me write the children’s story. That may sound crazy, but doing that academic writing helped me free my mind and open it up to really writing for kids,” Hansen said. 

Throughout this rough-draft stage, Hansen and Mitchell said they received lots of helpful feedback from anyone who would give it. Eventually, they had a final product that they were both proud of.

The project then stayed online and untouched for the next five to six years, Hansen said. Then, Hansen decided that she wanted to officially get it published and share the story with the world. Hansen and her husband eventually settled on self-publishing the book. They funded the copyright, ISBN number and printing costs, all out of pocket. “Daisy’s Tale” was officially published in October 2022. 

Hansen said that the main goals of this project were to do good in the world, spread positivity and create awareness for adopting animals in need. To most effectively do this, Hansen partnered with the Poweshiek Animal League Shelter (PALS).

“Daisy’s Tale” is available for a 10-dollar donation to PALS. All the profits from the book will go to support PALS and the work that they do to help animals that need care. “If my money that I invested in the book can be multiplied [for PALS] — that’s what I wanted,” Hansen said.

“Daisy’s Tale” can be found at Pioneer Bookshop, located on Main Street in downtown Grinnell.