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Today's Family Magazine

Local author releases new children’s book, "SymFUNNY"

Many years ago, Jeannie Fleming-Gifford, a Willoughby resident,  and Anna J. Magnusson connected in Columbus, OH, both having a mutual love for the arts and writing.  Together, the two began creating and collaborating on a variety of stories.  Their children’s book SymFUNNY was inspired by watching young children enter the orchestra hall, many for the first time, to experience a live performance of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra where Fleming-Gifford worked as the education director for several years. 

The concept came to life as Anna and Jeannie captured the viewpoint of young children and their expectations of going to the symphony versus their actual experience.  The manuscript sat waiting to be shared until Fleming-Gifford connected with artist Kira Weber.

Weber, who resides in Chagrin Falls, had an interest in art before she could talk.  As soon as she could hold a crayon, she began creating intricately detailed art.  Her autism has helped her focus for extended periods as she paints and draws.

SymFUNNY is a playful children’s story and is shared as an introduction to symphonic music, the orchestra, and to support literacy development. 

“SymFUNNY is charming, imaginative, educational and, most importantly, fun!  It captures the way a child thinks to introduce kids (and adults) to the concert-going experience with delightful pictures and prose that blend together in perfect harmony,” said Joan Katz, education director, The Cleveland Orchestra

Fleming-Gifford has a master’s degree in child development and is the executive director at Fairmount Center for the Arts, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to enrich lives through the arts.  

Anna J. Magnusson serves as the executive director of the Iowa Able Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering individuals with disabilities to achieve and maintain independence.  

For more information or to obtain a copy of “SymFUNNY” and support Fairmount Center for the Arts and I Am Able IOWA, visit