"Poetry has a melody whether it rhymes or is free verse," she said. "There is a melody to it that penetrates to our core."
Born in Albania, Lusha and her mother fled the country in 1985 to escape the conflict and violence after the death of the dictator, she said. They traveled through Hungary and Austria before coming to the United States and settling near her great-uncle in Michigan, she said.
"My mother wanted to come to America because she believed it was the cradle of every promise and opportunity," she said.
At age 12, she already knew three languages — Albanian, Hungarian and German — but was insecure learning English in her class, she said, until her teacher encouraged her to write a poem and read it aloud.
"Through my peers' approval and their smiles, that was the catalyst for my continuing to write poetry and become more public and active with it," she said.
Some children are shy to express themselves with poetry, Lusha said. They understand the concept, but they don't have the confidence to write it.
"I would like the book to stand as a tool to unbind children from expectations of poetry because it should free the child to self-expression and exploration," she said.
There will be nine more books coming in the series, said Nathan Krekula, vice president of acquisitions for Little Black Dog Publishing.
Part of the agreement is that a percentage of the profits be donated to a charity, Krekula said. The collaboration was perfect, he said, because Lusha was already an ambassador for Sentebale, which offers support to children suffering poverty and stricken with HIV/AIDS in Lesotho, Africa.
"It's important to my business partner, Jessica McKee, and I that each and every book has a positive reinforcement into society and that there is a charity connection, so the author is not just writing a book for the sake of making money, but writing a book that inspires people to look at things in a different way and make a change in their community," he said.