Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Children's book has wide appeal

Tribute to author's mom who battled cancer

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Michelle Gilman with her children's book, What Grandma Built.

STEVE BOSCH / POSTMEDIA NETWORK INC. Enlarge Image

Michelle Gilman with her children's book, What Grandma Built.

Michelle Gilman started out writing a story for her children to help them deal with the death of their grandmother but ended up producing a book that appealed to practically everybody.

The former Winnipegger's book, What Grandma Built, is a tribute to her mom, Phyllis Shenkarow, who died in late 2011 after a battle with cancer.

But unlike other books that deal with cancer and death, this one focuses on life, legacies, giving back to cancer-related organizations and that happiness eventually returns after the death of a loved one.

In talking to friends and family, she discovered they all saw some of their own situation in What Grandma Built, because they've all been touched by cancer in some way.

"Everyone has some sort of hook to the story -- that's been the biggest surprise to me. To put a book on the market with so much universal appeal is so exciting for me. There was no intention to do this. Sometimes that's how the best things get done -- by staying true to what you wanted to do," Gilman said.

The proceeds of the book's sales are being donated to the Canadian Cancer Society.

Annitta Stenning, president and CEO of the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation, said she thinks Gilman's book is "wonderful" and would be a great addition to its library.

Gilman is hosting a Winnipeg launch Thursday night at 7 p.m. at McNally Robinson Booksellers at Grant Park Shopping Centre.

She was raised in Winnipeg and spent her summers first at Winnipeg Beach and later Lake of the Woods. She attended the University of Manitoba for bachelor degrees in science and education. She and her family now live in Vancouver, where her husband, Laurence, is assistant general manager and vice-president of hockey operations for the Vancouver Canucks.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 22, 2014 B8

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