She was the volunteer lunch lady who became an author at Sanborn Elementary School many years ago. Jeanette Guerrera’s first book, “The Invisible Elf,” was published in 1972. Sanborn students were thrilled when the woman best known for lining up lunch trays tossed her apron aside and read to them from a book that she wrote.
Joseph Normandy, now deceased, was Sanborn School principal back then and is credited with showing cafeteria worker Guerrera’s literary side.
“She just loved kids,” Joe Guerrera, 91, said of his late wife, to whom he was married for nearly 70 years. “She was at Sanborn for 20 years...Never got a dime, just loved being there.”
Jeanette (Dion) Guerrera died in June 2009. As her husband was going through some of her things last year, he found seven more manuscripts with some memorable stories among the pages.
Jeanette Guerrera planned to publish the books but the publisher went bankrupt. Then, discussions with Universal Studios followed. Her agent opposed animating her book characters so film executives bid goodbye.
“Who knew?” Joe Guerrera laughs, noting that animation is now so popular and a movie have earned some big bucks for the family.
So, the seven manuscripts were tossed aside and life went on at the couple’s Cuba Street home. The couple was busy raising three daughters, Janice Furey and Joyce Anderson, both of Andover; and Jo-Anne Cahill of North Andover.
But last December, the manuscripts emerged again. Her husband remembered one of the last conversations he had with her.
“I remember her saying, ‘please have them published’,” Joe Guerrera said.
A family meeting followed as the typed manuscripts were assembled on the living room floor along with some illustrations done by Jeanette Guerrera. Copy and illustrations were matched while a publisher was sought. Four months later, in April, the seven children’s books arrived at the Cuba Street home.