In my 30-plus years in journalism, I never once dreamed of writing a kids’ book. I read roughly four zillion books to our sons, Nick and Nate, when they were young, but my own storytelling rarely strayed beyond improvised conversations between stuffed toys. But one day in 2019, with our boys long launched into adulthood, I found myself imagining what goes on inside our cats’ brains. Rocki & Emily is the result.

Of course, there was also a time my brother, Phil Elmhurst, would have scoffed at the idea of me writing a book based on family history. He was the family historian, thank you very much. I was the little sister with only a passing interest in the painstaking research he conducted long before started catering to genealogists. That all changed in 2020-21 when I produced Life & Legacy, a book about our grandmother, Ruth (Birdsall) Elmhurst. How I wish Phil had been there as I burrowed into old letters and documents. Once he stopped teasing, he would have been a valuable guide and proofreader. Sadly, Phil passed away in 2009.

• LIFE & LEGACY (2021): This book, highlighted by beautiful family photographs, is a loving tribute to my grandmother, Ruth (Birdsall) Elmhurst, who was partially paralyzed after surgery in 1947. A treasure trove of letters she wrote in the first half of the 20th century launched me on a quest to know more about her fascinating life – and about my own roots in Peterborough County. 
Book details: 8.5 X 11 inches (21 X 28 cm); glossy, magazine-style format; perfect bound. 80 pages. $20 for curb-side pickup in Kitchener; $25 including mailing (within Canada).

ROCKI & EMILY (2019): This children’s book features stunning watercolours by artist Diane Shantz. The book, starring two wily felines, is a touching story about friendship: Will the pair see beyond their misconceptions to give each other a chance? Rocki & Emily is aimed at ages 4 and up.
Book details: 6 X 9 inches (15 X 23 cm); laminated cover; interior pages 100 lb. supreme silk; 32 pages. $12 for curb-side pickup in Kitchener; $16 including mailing (within Canada). 

The books are available through Lydia Heins Publishing:

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Lydia Heins Publishing is a creative partnership between writer/editor Kathryn Storring and artist Diane Shantz. The pair, both from Kitchener, were colleagues at The Record newspaper and at a popular lifestyle magazine, Grand, where Kathy was editor, and Diane was the wizard who moulded the stories and photos into beautiful layouts.

After leaving Grand, Kathy and Diane jumped into various solo projects, but they teamed up again in 2019 when Kathy had a brainwave for a kids’ book, Rocki & Emily. It made sense to give their “enterprise” a name, and after innumerable trips to each other’s home, they decided their combined street names had a certain ring to it. Lydia Heins Publishing was born.


To learn more about Diane:

Kathy Storring
Diane Shantz