Teacher, Student Team to Support Grieving Families

What started as a simple first-grade assignment in small-town Ripley transformed into a loving bond and a powerful book designed to make a lasting impact all around the world.

When the children’s book A Corner of Heaven releases Tuesday, author Laura Dewire and illustrator Kailen Offutt will offer their gift to grieving families here on earth and pay tribute to those families’ angel babies.

“When Kailen was my student, she drew a family portrait that included her baby brother, Kulen, in the upper right-hand corner. She explained to me that he lives in Heaven,” says Dewire, a teacher at St. Michael School. “Kulen had been born sleeping, and his family still celebrated his life.”

Dewire became close with the Offutt family and soon developed the idea for a book that could help the older siblings of babies lost through miscarriage or infant death. Passionate and inspired, Dewire wrote the text in only 20 minutes and paired her words with the illustrations created by Kailen, now 9.

A Corner of Heaven will benefit Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a nonprofit organization that provides remembrance photography for bereaved families like the Offutts.

“The book has been such a source of healing and joy for both the Offutt family and for me,” says Dewire, a Miami University graduate. “It still astounds me that out of something so painful and tragic, something beautiful and lovely was created.”

Dewire and the Offutt family will celebrate the launch of A Corner of Heaven with a reception at 11 a.m. Sunday at the St. Michael Parish Hall. They also will hold signing events at 7 p.m. Jan. 26 at the Union Township Library in Ripley and at 1 p.m. Feb. 4 at the Adams County Library in Peebles.

“My prayer for this book is that it can be for other families what it has been for the Offutt family,” Dewire says. “I hope it can be a shining light of peace for families. I hope it can serve as a reminder that God can make something beautiful out of something broken. I hope it heals. I hope it protects. I hope it serves.”

A Corner of Heaven can be purchased in hardback for $16.95.