Chellis Swenson Jensen ’53
Fairwood Press, Inc., 2010

Chellis Swenson Jensen has created a quirky lady backed by her pet parrot, Maurice. Tired of the neighborhood children’s teasing, the lead character decides the solution is to change her name. Only when she recognizes that she, too, can laugh at her name and accept it does she decide to talk with the children.

The story is a collaboration amongst Chellis, her son, Paul Swenson (illustrator), and step-son Patrick Swenson (publisher).

Chellis first created the story for a granddaughter in 2007, and it grew. She started reading her manuscript to elementary school children 7-9 years old. “If they weren’t going to like it,” she says, “I wasn’t going to waste time and money having it printed.” The story immediately delighted hundreds of children, their teachers, and other adults.

Chellis and John Toth also recorded the story on a CD, bringing the characters to life. Both the book and the CD include a song, with words and music by Chellis. The song, “We Might Even Get To Be Friends,” speaks directly to the children:

You may be really smart but
what you’re doing isn’t fun

To call people names and then
laugh is awf’ly dumb

Let’s work out a truce between
you and me

And then we might get to be

Chellis Swenson ’53 was president of the Alumni Association in 1980. Earl Otis ’51 was a long-time information specialist with Cooperative Extension until his retirement in 1993.