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Emily's Gift: A Dream Realized

Two years after the tragic murder of her youngest child, Ellen Shane saw a book in a dream.

“I immediately woke up afterwards and knew I had to create it,” recalls Shane, whose 13-year-old daughter, Emily, was killed on April 3, 2010, on Pacific Coast Highway. “The dream was like a message.”

Following the roadmap of her dream—which vividly depicted the cover and its artwork—Shane’s book was brought to life through Emily’s Gift: The True Story of Sherlock and Jackson. It’s the first in a series of true stories about the family’s dogs imparting positive themes for kids that was launched on August 4.

Emily’s Gift explores a chapter in the lives of the Shane family in which the two furry family members, Sherlock and Jackson, are the gifts they didn’t know they wanted—but eventually realized they needed—and could no longer live without.

“The book is a true story about our dogs,” explains Shane. “Despite great odds, our youngest child was able to bring puppies into our household—hence the first part of the title—Emily’s Gift.

Throughout the story, there are positive themes and messages for children—and some humor.

“There are a few aspects of the book that make it special, such as the illustrations,” says Shane, whose book was illustrated by Bernard Joaquin and Patrick Horan. “It was uncanny to me that the illustrators, who worked using only photographs to depict our family and my verbal description of how I envisioned the cover and illustrations in my dream, captured everything so perfectly.”

In honor of Emily’s memory—and to support the vital work of The Emily Shane Foundation, which was founded by Shane and her husband, Michel—proceeds from the book will benefit the foundation.

“Children risking academic failure in the mainstream classroom who cannot afford necessary outside support often suffer negative consequences as a result,” Shane says.

The nonprofit charity’s SEA (Successful Educational Achievement) Program acts like a safety net to “catch” these students and provide them the intensive and individualized support they require to succeed to their best potential.

“SEA students are capable of success, however, they need someone to teach them, guide and encourage them,” explains Shane, further noting that many are below grade level in one or more subjects, and often lack the skills necessary to be successful in school.

“SEA mentor/tutors are carefully vetted and trained,” says Shane, adding that they learn not only to focus on their student’s subjects of difficulty, but also on essential organizational and study skills.

“To me, a child is not responsible for their family’s socioeconomic status or situation,” Shane emphasizes. “Providing them with a pathway for a positive future makes a significant difference in their lives. Every contribution to SEA helps make that a reality for a student who would otherwise ‘fall through the cracks’.”

In future endeavors, Shane is writing the second book of this series, which are all true stories about her family’s dogs.

“I would also like to note that as we serve a disadvantaged population; the only ‘cost’ of admission to SEA participants is that they must perform one good deed per session—typically, twice per week—and the deeds must be entered on our website,” Shane says. “This embraces Emily’s persona and our foundation’s ‘Pass it Forward’ motto—and most of all, it helps establish a socially conscious mindset in our youth.”

Shane is also planning a virtual fundraiser tentatively slated for Nov. 19; check the foundation’s website ( to verify. RSVP:

For additional information about The Emily Shane Foundation, visit, view @emilyshanefoundation on Instagram and Facebook or visit Twitter at @emilyroseshane. To order Emily’s Gift in English or Spanish, visit Shane’s Facebook author page is at