by Roger Zotti
Sylvia Leiberman’s delightful “Archibald’s Swiss Cheese Mountain” has an interesting history. Many years ago, Sylvia took a course in writing children’s books. She handed in the Archibald story. When the instructor passed it back he told her, “This should be published,” and gave her a list of children’s book publishers. “And that’s how Archibald was born,” Sylvia said.
Two days later, Sylvia’s happiness was cut short by the passing of her father. “I was in no mood for Archibald,” she said. Time passed and Sylvia became a widower. “I was left with a lovely daughter, Carole, who, like me, had a dream,” Sylvia said. “Hers was to become a doctor.” Sylvia kept her own dream of having her book published on hold. She kept busy, though, by taking writing courses at different Manhattan colleges.
Sylvia’s daughter was also writing a book. One day she called her mother. “She wanted to know about the children’s book I had written twenty five years ago,” said Sylvia. When Carole learned her mother still had it, that it had been filed away, she said, “Mom, find it and please get it to me.”
Unknown to Sylvia, Carole had been in contact with numerous publishers about her own book and her mother’s. One of the publishers, Santa Ana, CA-based Seven Locks Press, liked Sylvia’s work. Invited to the editor’s office, Sylvia was nearly knocked off her feet when she was presented with a contract. “And that was how Archibald was reborn,” she said, laughing.
“Writing a children’s book thoroughly challenged my creativity,” said Sylvia. “The book is about a personable, curious, smart little mouse named Archibald. Its main theme involves Archibald’s dream of finding the Swiss cheese mountain. He has many adventures and misadventures, and he overcomes many obstacles in pursuit of that dream.”
Sylvia, a NY native, said one of the book’s lessons is that “if you have a dream, be determined to follow [it]. The book teaches children to persevere in life and not let anything discourage you.” Confronting-and-overcoming fear is another theme. “Archibald becomes brave and realizes his many fears were foolish because they held him back in pursuing his dream,” said Sylvia.
The best thing about having her book published, Sylvia noted, “is that a certain percentage of the profits go to two children’s charities: Feed the Children and Variety: The Children’s Charity.” Sylvia’s book – with Kira Fulks’s extraordinary design and Jeremy Wendell’s remarkable illustrations – is available at Borders, Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com. Archibald has his own website, too: www.archibaldmousebooks.com.
Right now, Sylvia is having the time of her life. “You’d be amazed at what I’m experiencing,” she said. “I’ve had so many wonderful experiences. I’ve met so many wonderful people at book fairs. It’s just a wonderful, new thing to add to my life now that I’m a senior.” More, it’s safe to say what Sylvia learned from writing her book is the same thing her charming creation, Archibald, learned – which is never give up on your dream.