Meet the Creators

Susan reising profile photo

Susan Reising | Author

In 1997, I left my job as a magazine editor to pursue more heartfelt endeavors. Writing a children’s book about the web of life was one of them. In 1998, I wrote the first draft of what would eventually become “Lola and the Tree of Life.” Then… it sat on a shelf for 20 years. It (or I) wasn’t quite ready for the world. But this little story never let go of me. 

In 2020, I read the novel “The Overstory” by Richard Powers. His soul-stirring homage to trees and their plight—told through 12 interconnected human stories—reminded me of a mesmerizing 2016 Ted Talk by ecologist Suzanne Simard on how trees communicate through their own connections. Against a backdrop of human connection challenged by deep political division, a pandemic and other wide-ranging world challenges, these works, along with my life experiences across nearly six decades, reconfirmed my belief in the interconnection of all things, living and past. I knew it was time to revisit the story of a deep friendship between a sensitive child and a wise old burr oak tree. 

Reimaged to honor beloved corgi, Lola, who left us too soon, and her little “sister,” Skye (who looks just like the real Skye), the story integrates themes of family, friendship, nature and impending loss, enriched by the lush, inspired illustrations of Missy Shepler. I hope Lola, Skye and Tree help you and the children you love find hope and connection.

In my day job, I’m a professional development coach, trainer and writer. To find out more, visit

Missy shepler profile photo

Missy Shepler | Illustrator

We all have big dreams. Ideas of what we want to do when we grow up. Bucket lists of “do before we die” adventures. Illustrating a children’s book is one of mine, and I’m thrilled and thankful that Susan Reising thought of me when looking for an illustrator for her “Lola and the Tree of Life” book.

Growing up, I spent most summers escaping to a secret spot along the creek at the edge of our property. I’d throw in a fishing line, sit back, and study the plants and animals around me. On rainy days, I’d pore over borrowed art books, trying to teach myself to draw. I have never tired of watching the world around me, or of learning new creative techniques.

Working on this book with Susan let me remember what it was like to talk to trees, to be still, silent, and more connected to green growing things. I’ve tried to put a little bit of that on each page, and I hope this story helps you find that same peace for yourself.

Email Missy at

The Tree

The character of Tree was inspired by this majestic burr oak estimated to have taken root around 1500. It resides in Giant Oak Park in Peoria, lll., where visitors take in its wonder year-round.