Local artist illustrates two children’s books, and launches a business that transforms tragedy into encouragement

by Katie Marie Chatham

In the most magical way, the unique, whimsical art of Prescott’s very own Kelly Mengarelli has brought to life two children’s books, and a special business that delivers comfort.

What started out as just-for-fun artwork on Instagram, “The Artsy Blonde” gained a number of followers, including a Phoenix-based mother-daughter team in search of an illustrator for their book. “Princess Pippa & The Crown of Kindness” is a sweet story about a little girl who believes lipstick makes her beautiful. Throughout the book, she learns that a heart of gold allows beauty to shine from within, and Kelly said, “That is the message I want girls to hear and take to heart.”

As fate would have it, while Kelly was crafting the pages to the Princess Pippa story, her neighbor saw the Pippa character and jumped for joy; she had been searching for an illustrator for a children’s book she wrote with her daughter and granddaughter. “Above the Clouds: What Really Happens In Heaven During A Thunderstorm” was born.

“Above the Clouds” is a modern twist on the stories parents might have told their children about what is happening in heaven when it’s stormy out.  We all remember the old-time explanation that the angels are bowling when we hear thunder, or that they are dancing.  “Above the Clouds” is a millennial approach: it explains that lightning is actually the camera flashes from the angels taking selfies!

When Kelly first started illustrating some of the pages of “Above the Clouds,” most of the scenes were coming together – but she just couldn’t come up with a proper angel, which was a prominent part of the story.  It was at that time that Kelly and the entire Mengarelli family experienced great loss: Kelly’s sister-in-law, Brooklyn Mengarelli, died suddenly of an epileptic seizure in April of 2020.  Kelly knew how she could honor Brooklyn’s memory and through her grief, create something beautiful.  The main angel in the story is in Brooklyn’s likeness. She also included a few other young angels, young men, that she drew in the likeness of others she knew, that also, tragically, died young.

She found that seeing these characters brought healing and comfort to others and has created a niche for herself: her commissioned work, “Angel Art.”

To see more of Kelly’s artwork, or read her books’ back story in more detail, visit www.theartsyblonde.com.