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Pat Skene likes to say that when she retired, she veered directly from the left brain to the right brain.

The Oakville resident worked for CIBC for 25 years, including as vice-president of consumer loans. When she retired in 1998, she immediately started writing children’s books.

Her first book, The Whoosh of Gadoosh was published in 2002 and won a Benjamin Franklin Award. Presented by the Independent Book Publishers Association in the United States, the award is regarded as one of the highest national honours for small and independent publishers. The book is in its second printing.

Last fall, Skene had breast cancer surgery and a large part of her recuperation was working on her latest book, Wowwy and Me, a rhyming story aimed at children aged two to six. It is based on Skene’s daughter’s childhood stuffed toy – who even went to university with her – and the idea that many children have a favourite blanket or doll they drag around for years. These well-loved companions become dirty and threadbare. This story is about what Tilly does to make her special friend Wowwy look new again.

“I really needed something warm and fuzzy to work on, and a legacy for my daughter,” said Skene, who worked on the project with Talysha Bujold-Abu, a fourth-year art student at McMaster University.

“Research shows that rhyming is one of the earliest and most important parts of children developing a love for reading. I spend hours on every line to make sure it’s the right rhythm.”

Skene is already thinking about her next book, which will help teach teens about money management.

“I have no lack of ideas,” she says. “It’s just a matter of narrowing down what I want to do next. I am not going to stop. They are going to have to put me in the grave with my Mac stuck to my fingertips.”