Florin T. Kolbaba was delighted to collaborate with his father on this amazing children’s picture book. It is his first foray into writing. Their work together started with an idea about doing a children’s book that would be fun for children but also emphasize the importance of love, belonging, happiness, purpose and the appreciation of the natural world.
The book was modeled after Florin’s backyard which contains many of the elements in the book including a large walnut, beautiful magnolias, bluebells, and daffodils. The hero of the story, the burning bush, was a problem because they did not have enough time to grow it from seed, so they had to purchase the bush at a nursery. Fortunately, it cooperated and turned a brilliant red in the fall.
Florin was the master photographer and took over 1500 pictures of the setting along with the individuals who appeared in the book, including little Clara. As the book took shape, they had to hurry because Clara was growing up and not so little toward the end of their three-year journey.
Florin submitted 1000 pictures to the illustrator, Dina Leuchovius, from Sweden, who interpreted his artistic photographs into 26 beautiful paintings.
Florin is the second youngest in a family of 7 children. He came from very humble beginnings growing up in an orphanage in Romania. He came to live in the United States at age 6 and became part of the Kolbaba family. He loves baseball and can tell the statistics of many of the major league players.
Florin has ambitions to continue his writing career and even expand it into publishing, helping aspiring writers like himself get a start.
Dina Leuchovius is a self-taught artist and illustrator from Sweden. She has found her passion in storybook illustration. She feels Imagination is powerful, and nothing enriches it better than a good story. She loves seeing stories come to life as she brings them shape and color. She enjoyed working with the Kolbaba's and looks forward to illustrating their next book in 2024.
Scott J. Kolbaba, MD is a practicing physician of internal medicine for more years than he would like to admit. After college, he joined the Marine Corps where he served until he started medical school at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. He graduated with honors and was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. Completing his residency at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, he subsequently appeared in Chicago Magazine as a “Top Doctor”.
In what he calls his abundant leisure time, he enjoys writing. His first book, Physicians’ Untold Stories, has been an Amazon bestseller and is now internationally published. It is an anthology of stories about miraculous events in physicians’ lives.
He has always wanted to write a children’s book and his experiences in the adolescent psychiatric unit of Northwestern Medicine gave him the incentive. He was called to the emergency department to see a depressed young girl in a coma from a drug overdose. She recovered but he did not, and decided to write a positive uplifting book that would encourage young people to believe in themselves and to find their purpose. His new book, Clara’s Magic Garden, is a collaboration with his son, Florin. It promotes the importance of love, acceptance, purpose and an appreciation for the natural world.
Some of his friends accuse him of doing things in a big way. He has raised championship pumpkins in his backyard, and he flies the largest kites on the beach. His children, tired of holding the strings, bought him an anchor for Christmas to hold the kites down. He has seven children and twelve grandchildren with one on the way. Even his dog, a Newfoundland, at one hundred and fifty pounds is a gentle giant.
He continues to practice medicine and hopes to write more books in what he calls his leisure time, between midnight and two a.m.
Meet our incredible team who made this project possible!