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The Real Story Behind My Children's Books

When I published The Famous Phoebe of Long Island’s first story, Phoebe’s Adventures at Sailors Haven, I had no idea of the adventure it held for me. I remember the day that Frank and I, along with our sweet pup Reina, recalled Phoebe's stories.

Jean, Frank and Reina sitting in a park

“Remember when she…”

“You have to write about the time she…”

“We had such fun while she…”

So many memories flooded back to us. Pheobe’s legacy lives on in her books, and that’s apparent to me during children’s storytimes and when talking to young readers and their parents at book sales and author events.

Every Dog Owner Tells a Story…and I love hearing them!

Often, I’ll start a program by asking the young audience a few questions:

Classroom with children asking questions

How many of you like the beach?

Have you ever been on a boat ride?

Who has a dog or a cat?

And off they go. My dog’s name is Buddy. My dog is a Beagle.

My cat chases my dog around the house. My dog is 10 years old.

I can’t have pets because my mom is allergic. ☹

I must make sure I reserve enough time for every person to tell their story. They each have one, whether they have a pet or not!

So Many Future Authors

My very first reading was to a group of children around seven and eight years old, where we discovered amazing talent. After the story, my sister Marianne, the Artist & Craft Queen, gave the kids the choice of coloring, a word search puzzle, or writing their own story. We provided blank booklets in which the budding authors could write and illustrate. Then, they had the opportunity to read their story to the group.

A young girl wrote “The Famous Phoebe of Ukraine,” a story of her family’s homeland. It was fascinating to hear her version of a dog’s life in another culture. I should add that this was before war struck the country, and I often think of her and pray for her family and friends.

A young man wrote the story of his grandfather, a war veteran. The pride and love he had for his granddad clearly came through in his words.

Child reading a book

I’ve met children who tell me they want to write a book, or some have even written stories. I tell them to carry a notebook in their backpack so that when something interesting happens or they think of a story idea, they can easily write. I also told them to read, read, read! Of course, I encourage all children to read, read, read.

Kids Often Amaze Me

I remember events where the brainpower in the audience delighted me. At a library storytime, children were asking questions before the program began.

One was curious about the Sunken Forest at Sailors Haven. She asked me to explain it, and when I did, she questioned if erosion had anything to do with how the forest was formed. Well, yes, I told her. She thought so because she learned about erosion in school.

Another child sat directly in front of me and followed along in the book as I was reading aloud. I came to the part when Phoebe first saw a deer with “big, beautiful, brown eyes.” Wow, you used alliteration, I was told. Well, yes, I did. I’m certain that was not a word in my vocabulary at her age. 😐

Well done, parents, teachers, and librarians – way to go!

Phoebe Is Famous Beyond Belief

It’s been three years since Phoebe’s Adventures at Sailors Haven was published, and her second story, Phoebe’s Boat Trip to Montauk, became available last year. I’m often honored and humbled by how many people stop by my booth at a street fair to tell me their child loves my books. I’ve received letters and reviews that are mind-blowing.

I remember standing in a library in front of approximately 20 children and their parent(s). I held up my book and said, “Let’s read a story about the Famous Phoebe of Long Island.”

“Oh, Phoebe!” squealed a little voice in the audience.

Surreal is the only way to explain it. The mom told me they visited the Montauk Lighthouse, where they had purchased the book. My Phoebe is famous.

Do It

I have my third manuscript done and others in the works. Bringing a story to life is a wonderful feeling. Earlier, I mentioned that I speak with many children about writing, but it's also true that I meet adults who tell me they’ve often thought of writing a children’s book. I hope my adventures inspire you to write your story. It may not bring fame or money, but it’s the most rewarding experience of my career.

Let me know how it goes for you. Good luck. Enjoy the ride!


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