Everything else seemed to be flowing easily and naturally as artist/illustrator/graphic designer and Prescott native Kelly Mengarelli took on her first book illustration project in 2020 — a childhood dream come true.
She just couldn’t get the angels quite right in Above the Clouds: What Really Happens in Heaven During a Thunderstorm.
Then tragedy struck in April that year when her sister-in-law Brooklyn Mengarelli died at 21 from an epileptic seizure. Kelly turned that heartsick time into inspiration, using Brooklyn’s likeness to illustrate the joy and hope of heaven through the book’s main angel.
“It was an honor to illustrate Brooklyn in heaven exactly how I picture her… laughing and full of joy. Her legacy will never be forgotten, and to see her smile in these pages brings healing and comfort.”
Above the Clouds was written by fellow Prescott resident and former librarian Sue Milon along with her daughter Stephanie Barton and granddaughter Carley Barton. The story about the party that happens in heaven during a thunderstorm was written to allay children’s fears of such storms.
Kelly points out that such a book on thoughtfulness and consideration is not a surprise coming from Sue, who is quite the volunteer in the Prescott community serving the elderly through People Who Care, helping provide scholarships and grants to women through the Philanthropic Educational Organization, and working with 100+ Women Who Care.
Not too long after this project came through, Kelly, aka The Artsy Blonde, illustrated Princess Pippa & the Crown of Kindness, written by Phoenix author Heidi Blair and daughters Kate and Elizabeth. Always close to her heart, Kelly fashioned a parade route in the book after Prescott’s Gurley Street, including the Elks’ Theatre and Hassayampa Inn with Thumb Butte in the distance.
“When I think of a patriotic small town American parade, I think of charming Prescott. I had to include the place I love most in this sweet story!”
The book is based on a conversations that took place during daughter Elizabeth’s battle with childhood cancer and celebrates spreading beauty through kindness. All book proceeds fund projects dedicated to childhood cancer.
Today Kelly, who has a business degree from Northern Arizona University, has added another dimension to her creative work stemming from her book illustration experience. She illustrates families together with a loved one who has passed adorned in angel wings or standing alongside Jesus.