Thanks for visiting and taking a look around.
I’ll introduce myself here as an award-winning author and illustrator of children’s books that I hope children will want to read over and over again. I co-authored Sunbelievable with my son Daniel, a general surgeon in south central Florida. What an amazing experience writing with Dan — he brings a wonderful sense of fun and imagination to storytelling.
I’m often constrained by my training as a technical writer, but we’re a good team. He creates the essence of the story, getting into the hearts and minds of our characters. I work on structure and visual elements. Our different perspectives help make each story come alive with magical landscapes and hilarious dialogue.
We believe strongly in celebrating the rich cultural diversity of our lives and heritage. We’re deeply committed to eco-friendly and child safe products, and our books are lead-free and made in the USA.
Every night, long after my mom declared bedtime, I hid under the covers with a pile of books.
With a sliver of light from the back alley, I read for hours. Maybe she suspected. I was always the kid looking backward when we walked, and had to be tugged along. Words seemed to jump from everywhere — fast-moving buses, storefronts, signposts — words that meant something I was too young to decipher. So I found them in books and stories that merged into my dreams, night after night. Perhaps that is where my own stories began, linked to the rhythms of early language and illustrations glittering in the half light.
My life became a hyperspace for storytelling.
In Montana, our young children played on the high prairie, touched the night sky, felt the wind tear across the foothills. Our Native American daughter “read” the earth, smelled spring coming. We imagined stories of Sioux hunters gathered on the Missouri Breaks, cowboys and Indians down the next gorge. In New England, our stories grew tamer like the landscapes, but sideways snowstorms were locked in vivid memory. Our son challenged the earth, grew up with a log splitter in one hand and a book in the other.
From peaceful Vermont and New Hampshire, my husband and I traveled for medical work to the Soviet Union after the Berlin Wall fell.
Loving language, I learned Russian to navigate the New Independent States, to listen for the meaning of conversation, to understand the children. Russian literature that I read in high school became more “real” in those solemn countries. I was drawn to Pushkin’s fairy tale images painted with exquisite detail on lacquer boxes, and stories about an old hag who lived in the forest, waiting for children. We waited, too, eventually adopting two girls from Russia in 2003 and 2007.
Since then, we have 4 grandchildren of Haitian and Caucasian/Russian descent and 2 grandchildren who are Native American/African American.
The first full book I read under the covers was “Beauty and the Beast.” That now seems a profoundly coincidental first story. As the stories I told my children became more whimsical, filled with images from distant and foreign lands, my left brain turned to professional medical/science writing. I synthesize research findings, publish articles in major medical journals. Though highly technical, they are stories nonetheless.
Princess Secrets was inspired by my granddaughters, YaYa ( age 7) and Leen (age 8).
They are exotic, precocious and multilingual. We started making up stories together and writing them down for fun. At the same time, I began teaching myself Photoshop and learned to compose photobooks. And that is how Princess Secrets came to life. “Jada always dreamed of being a real princess…”
I always dreamed of being a “real” writer, of children reading my stories under the covers as I did, up all night.
Through storytelling, I can connect the rich diversity of my own family with new journeys. YaYa loves maps and language. She’s a talented gymnast and eager competitor. Leen loves to sing and dance, while honing her own gymnastics skills. Jaden at 3 years is “all boy”– though he loves to give his sisters a good run for the money, he’s sweet and loving with them and everyone. Mitchell is strong and handsome. Cheyenne has a smile beautiful as sunset over the Rocky Mountains. I invite you to meet them as they experience the joys of discovering their differences and similarities, their uniqueness and universality. Princess Secrets is just the beginning…
Jo Ann’s Bio
Jo Ann Kairys is an award winning author and illustrator of the children’s picture book, Sunbelievable. Ms. Kairys brings years of professional experience to medical/science writing, and is widely published in major medical journals, including Pediatrics and Family Medicine. She has first-authored numerous research articles concerning improving the quality of care in primary care practice settings. Other publications include manuals for health professionals about quality of care and practice outcomes.
Ms. Kairys served as adjunct professor in the Department of Community and Family Medicine at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) and Dartmouth Medical School where she held several positions, including Executive Director of the Center for the Evaluative Sciences. During her years as a faculty member, she led and coordinated programs funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the American International Health Alliance. These partnership programs teamed up health professionals in the U.S. and hospitals across the Newly Independent States with the shared goal of improving health care across the Republics of the former Soviet Union. Ms. Kairys taught and traveled extensively during this period to help modernize improve health care delivery systems.
Ms. Kairys also served as adjunct professor in the Department of Community Medicine at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School where she held the position of Executive Director of the Center for Health Families and Cultural Diversity. She also taught writing skills to health professionals and participated in clinical practice research programs, including evidence-based research funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.
In 2003, Ms. Kairys launched a medical writing firm, J&S Healthcare, LLC, working with clients in the U.S. and abroad to prepare research articles for publication and research grants for competitive funding. Her proposal award rate was 95%, with funds awarded totaling well over $5m. Ms. Kairys received her Masters Degree in Public Health from the University of Massachusetts, majoring in marketing and epidemiology. She oversaw clinical operations for outpatient services at DHMC and became Senior Vice President of Marketing and Planning for the Hitchcock Hospital. She was instrumental in planning the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth and launching the Women’s Health for Life initiative.
Recently, Ms. Kairys turned her writing skills to a new genre — creating and illustrating children’s books. In 2011, she established her own company, Story Quest Publishing, as a means of launching her own children’s book products. Her first book, Sunbelievable, was released in October 2011 and won the prestigious Mom’s Choice Award. She and her son, Daniel, paired up to create the story and draft a series of stories for future publication. As a self-published author, Ms. Kairys has a unique perspective on the publishing industry and keys to success.
Ms. Kairys is proficient in Russian and French and has always loved language, children’s book illustrations, and writing — both medical/technical and storytelling.