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Meet the artist behind Coeur d'Alene's 'Little Free Library Tree'

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - A Facebook post by a Coeur d'Alene woman is continuing to rake in shares and reactions online. Sharalee Howard published a photo of her Little Free Library Tree in front of her home in December. That post now has more than 103,000 shares on Facebook, gaining attention from people all over the world.

Howard is a mom and artist. She wanted to share her passion for reading with those around her, but wasn't sure how to do it. So when a 110-year-old Cottonwood tree outside her house had to be taken down because of its age and instability, she knew exactly what to do. She hollowed out the tree, put a roof on it and created a library - right in front of her house. Now, the little free library is for the whole community to enjoy.

On A Street in Coeur d'Alene, there is a neighborhood with a house flaunting its bounty of colors. It has a green picket fence, blue front door, and colorful furniture. The house also has a puppy pawing over the hardwood floors. And art. Lots, and lots of art.

In Howard's dining room, there is a dress on display that she made for an event - made completely of books.

"Out of book pages, and old covers and and spines," Howard said.

Howard is the designer and mastermind of several art pieces in her home. From furniture, to high-end book covers, but something was always missing.

"I've always wanted one of the little free libraries," Howard said.

After a couple years of planning, she made it happen. When she learned a 110-year-old tree outside her home had to be taken down for old age, she instead hollowed it out, and added some bookshelves - all to share her love for reading.

"Books have definitely been a focal point in my life."

Howard not only works at the Coeur d'Alene Public Library, she makes books herself.

"Took it apart and repaired it where it needed to repaired, and the signatures. And I I'm resewing it to turn into a fine binding," Howard said.

With a home filled with so much of her craft, she wanted the library outside to have a small piece of it.

"Our house has a dental molding. I made a dental molding that I made for the little library, that is actually little books," Howard said.

Each book has a spine and body, and titles - all, squeezing at Howard's heart.

"My husband, and myself. We all got to pick a couple of the titles," Howard said.

Her children, whose artwork also adorns the family home,  is part of the same molding.

"Seems a little out of place with all the classics - but it's called hush little alien which is one of their favorites," Howard said.

Now, she's responsible for a place where other kids can also find their favorites. Their own Hush Little Alien.

"The first night it was lit up and a little girl opened the door and from the house - the lighting was shining on her just right," Howard said.

It's the whole reason she came up with the idea. The overpowering, beaming joy, to see others - falling in love with words on a page, just as she does.

"Just to give people a special moment and hopefully, an unexpected one," Howard said.

The library's creator said the project isn't finished yet. She has plans to add a sign and work on the landscaping around the library as well.


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