Hoofen Floofen Island

a story of imagination and adventure, written by a child for children

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Hoofen floofen island, children's storybook cover

Lena is longing to seek new experiences. What do kids do when they are longing? They use their imagination to make magic. In Lena’s case, her magic suddenly appears as a winning ticket. She can take a trip anywhere in the world and bring anyone she wants. How will she share her good fortune? Can her wish for a fun escape become a reality? How far will she go? How will she get there and who will go with her? What will they see?

Hoofen Floofen Island is a magical place where palm trees sway, the ocean sparkles, and sandy beaches and the sunshine bring smiles aplenty. Come along to hear the squawk of the seagulls, see the billowing sails and smell the salty air as Lena and her little doggie imagine the possibilities, pack their bags, and set off on a fun adventure to a tropical island. Ah, that's the life.

In life, Lena Kay Rufus (1980-2003) was a Native American child of an Ojibwa bear clan. She was also a writer who honored her imagination, playfulness, and love of travel through her story Hoofen Floofen Island. The story demonstrates how joy can grow from real or imagined life adventures, especially when shared with those we love best. In death, Lena's writing lives on through her children's story, originally written at the tender age of ten.

Experience the fantasy of Hoofen Floofen Island as it is brought to life through delightful illustrations. An included discussion guide will encourage your child to write or draw their own tale.


The Lena Kay Rufus Memorial Scholarship Fund

Your purchase of Hoofen Floofen Island benefits others through Lena's memorial scholarship fund. The fund was established in 2003 at InFaith Community Foundation (formerly the Lutheran Community Foundation). 

InFaith Community Foundation is a national charity with a mission to serve donors, spread joy and change lives. Together with donors, InFaith now grants $16 million annually to charities serving local, national and global communities. 

To help build and maintain the ongoing efforts of the Lena Kay Rufus Memorial Scholarship Fund at InFaith, please mail a check made payable to ‘InFaith Community Foundation’ with ‘Lena Kay Rufus Memorial Scholarship Fund’ written in the memo to the address below. You may also visit InFaithFound.org/make_gift to learn about all giving options.

InFaith Community Foundation
625 Fourth Avenue South, Suite 1500
Minneapolis, MN 55415


Lena Kay Rufus

Lena Kay Rufus was just ten years old when she penned, in cursive writing, Hoofen Floofen Island on ruled, loose-leaf, and three-hole punched paper. Near the top of the assignment, her English teacher wrote “Good job!” encouraging Lena to write throughout her short life.

Lena's greatest insights developed while reading books. As a young person, she was already an adventurer and her fondness for reading and writing stories set Lena on a path of cultural, social, and geographical exploration. As a young adult, she traveled abroad as well as throughout the United States. A gifted and active Native American student, Lena played Suzuki violin, clarinet, soccer, and volleyball. She served as parliamentarian on student council, held officer positions in numerous student clubs, served as a founding member of the local county youth board and teen court before graduating with high honors. Lena once wrote, "I attribute my success to my affinity and love for reading."

Despite health challenges, Lena was known for her willingness to try just about anything. A confident person with great determination, Lena excelled in many endeavors. At the time of her passing, Lena was an International Studies major at Stanford University. Whether exploring the world through books or by booking a flight, Lena envisioned a more socially just world and intended to make social entrepreneurship her life's work.

Lena is dearly missed by many.


Check back often for updates or subscribe to the newsletter to be the first to see announcements!

Or take a look at behind the scenes at Hoofen Floofen Island headquarters . . .

It's fun to look back on the process of illustrating from rough concept to drawing and re-drawing numerous times, to the final paintings by illustrator, Lisa McGinley. Incredible, engaging, collaborative work.
Over a working weekend, illustrator, Lisa McGinley, and co-author, Monica Sword, develop the story board.
Oh, happy day when the artwork of "Hoofen Floofen Island," an illustrated children's story, arrived! On sale soon at lifeisaprettyword.com.
That moment when the first book proof arrives. And it's nearly perfect and capturing the unboxing is so much more than for posterity.
Photo: Kevin Cram

Photo: Kevin Cram

Monica J Sword

Monica J Sword is the mother of Lena Kay Rufus. Publishing Lena’s story has been her dream even before Lena’s untimely passing. Bringing Hoofen Floofen Island to a broader audience has been key to Monica's ability to cope with a devastating loss. Monica also writes stories and musings on living a full life and has found writing and art to be particularly effective for facing grief.

Monica's friendship with Lisa McGinley spans decades of playing with horses, hosting fabulous dinner parties, and traveling the U.S. and the Caribbean. Monica spends her days making art on the page and canvas. She misses Lena every day.

Photo: Amy kalmon

Photo: Amy kalmon

Lisa K McGinley

Lisa Kennedy McGinley is inspired by the natural world as well as the humor and charms of human nature. Capturing vignettes in pencil, pen, and paint gives her great pleasure. She was introduced to art at an early age by both her artist parents - a graphic designer and an illustrator/art teacher. Lisa is also an accomplished musician with several recordings. 

Collaborating with friend and fellow artist, Monica Sword, has been a dream come true. They've been close pals for years, sharing many life events and travel adventures. Helping bring Lena's Hoofen Floofen Island to life has been an honor.