Meet the Team


Lee and his wife, Donna, started Arbordale Publishing (formerly Sylvan Dell) in November 2004. Their focus is high quality, illustrated children’s books with a serious educational component. They have 120 different authors and illustrators, and have published 150 picture books. Lee is a retired US Navy Commander with five overseas deployments on frigates, destroyers, and with embarked staff aboard the aircraft carrier, USS George Washington. Lee received his MBA (Finance) from the Naval Postgraduate School Monterey, was a Math Instructor at the US Naval Academy, and Division Head for Advance Concept Wargaming at the US Naval War College. Between Navy retirement and Sylvan Dell start-up, Lee, Donna, and their three daughters took a four-year, family sabbatical visiting 72 US National Parks and sailing the Caribbean aboard their sloop, Pegasus. Lee and Donna reside in Mt. Pleasant, SC.

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Like many women, Donna German wears and has worn many hats during her life: Navy wife, mother, NY Times bestselling cookbook author, children’s book author, editor and co-owner of Arbordale, stock broker, and even historic Charleston carriage driver. After her husband Lee’s retirement from the Navy, she even became Mrs. Pegasus (the name of the sailboat the family lived and travelled on for 4 ½ years). Donna’s daughters laughingly claim she raised them to be “nerds,” and she takes that as a compliment. Bedtime meant book time. Halloween meant graveyard math and candy-corn math or sight-word bingo. Christmas baking meant measuring fun with recipes. And Easter baskets meant counting and sorting the goodies. The family room walls were covered with maps at child-eye level—initially so the girls would know where in the world their daddy was. Every Navy move meant exploring and learning about a different area of our country. During their post-Navy sabbatical, the family visited 67 National Parks with the children completing 72 Jr. Ranger programs. Their sailboat was the only cruising boat with a plankton net and microscope aboard. While Lee constantly complained that she didn’t need to bring the Library of Congress along with them, she did. The boat may have sat lower in the water because of it, but everyone always had something to read! Now that Donna’s daughters are grown, she shares her passion with other families through Arbordale books.

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