Niagara Gazette

Features

March 4, 2013

NIAGARA WRITERS: Children inspired history-based adventure story

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette —

My husband and I took a weekend break to visit our Texas grandsons. After enjoying the cattle drive in downtown historic Fort Worth, we read children’s stories in the evening. Children’s books had changed since I read to our children my favorite story written in the 1930s about poor and barefoot Hetty and Hank on Blue Ridge Mountain who grew turnips to make money for shoes. Many of the children’s books today make noises or have things to touch and open. I wondered about a way to teach children about our town’s history without too many “whistles and bells.”

Amy Freiermuth, the owner of BeauDesigns, and I had worked together on several other publications and map projects. Both of us were hoping to cross off our “to do” list when I asked her, “What do you think about working with me on a children’s story?” Amy mentioned that the name of a friend who was interested in doing illustrations for a children’s book. Kristen Raimondi and Amy had become friends following their children’s relationship while in Montessori. Kristen is an illustrator and Art educator in the Niagara Wheatfield School District.

The three of us met, worked out a plan and timeline. Other work and the usual potholes impacted the best plans of all three of us. I was disappointed that Guinevere’s descendant was not going to make it to the first book signing due to weather and spring farrowing.

The story is based on young Johnnie Diez, my husband’s grandfather, growing up in the late 1800s in the Town of Porter. Johnnie discovers his pet pig, Guinevere, missing from the feedlot and goes on a search around the town. Most of the illustrations are based on vintage images. Amy, the publisher and designer, created a map for the back cover so that children could follow Johnnie’s trek. Reading to her daughter inspired Amy’s ideas for her tenth book. Kristen’s delightful illustrations transferred to a lesson plan teaching her students how to illustrate a pig.

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