A Literary Legacy

Theresa Capitti, Ken Kallmeyer and Principal Joan Ingle
Photo by Lily Tinoco

Late Palisadian Book Series Dedicated to Pali Elementary

By LILY TINOCO | Reporter

Claudia Harrington Kallmeyer was a mother of three, wife and actress-turned-writer (among more) before passing away in 2018 after a long, hard battle with cancer.

Claudia wrote throughout her life, penning educational picture books. In 2015, she launched a series of picture books that celebrated family diversity with Magic Wagon, a division of Abdo Publishing, an educational publisher for schools and public libraries.

After writing the “My Family” series, Claudia proposed a new idea to her publisher: the now-beloved “Hank the Pet Sitter” series.

But within the same month of proposing her new idea, Claudia was diagnosed with a brain tumor and meeting with the nearest surgeons. Ken Kallmeyer, Claudia’s husband, shared that never stopped her.

“The first words out of her mouth were, ‘I just signed a contract for four books, am I going to be able to write these?’ And they said you have no reason why not, so she cranked four of them out in the midst of chemo and radiation and surgery,” Ken said to the Palisadian-Post.

The first set sold well, and after two surgeries, Claudia was on her way to write four more to add to the series. Unfortunately, her tumor came back within two years and made this round of writing extremely difficult. She struggled, but made it through with the help of a friend who would type the stories out for her while she dictated.

Together they got the next four books to her publisher by the deadline, but Claudia passed away in January 2018 before having the chance to see them.

“She was very proud of her books, she worked very hard on them,” Ken said. “She was adamant that this was not going to stop her, and her 20 books are her legacy.”

As an effort to keep Claudia’s memory alive, Theresa Capitti and Ken reached out to Palisades Charter Elementary School and dedicated the “Hank the Pet Series” to the school in her honor on Thursday, December 5. Capitti was Harrington’s neighbor and close friend.

Capitti and Kallmeyer visited, donated a set of the series to the school and stuck around to hear laughs fill the room as the librarian read “Otis the Very Large Dog” to a group of students.

Capitti shared that Claudia was a Pali Elementary mother and would spend a lot of her time there—it would be not only appropriate to donate a set of her work, but a great way to celebrate and remember her and what she loved to do.

“I give it to her, she really fought til the absolute end,” Capitti said to the Post. “My hope is that [this] will keep Claudia in our fellow Palisadian hearts, I don’t want anyone to forget her.”

All of Claudia’s books can be found on amazon.com.