[ articles | activities | features | links ]
Thursday, October 2, 2003
Young graphic designers help author with children´s book
By CINDY F. CRAWFORD
NEWS-JOURNAL STAFF WRITER
NEW SMYRNA BEACH — The bustling room of middle schoolers made Rose a little stir-crazy.
At each turn, New Smyrna Beach Middle School seventh-graders tried to place plastic glasses on her face and strap a belly-pack filled with toys to her waist.
For the first half-hour of Wednesday´s photo shoot, the seasoned model played along, waiting patiently as photographers snapped her picture. She even flashed a two-toothed smile and struck some professional poses for the cameras.
However, when it came to holding a stick with a running-away-from-home bandana tied to the end, the English bulldog had had enough.
"It was a little too busy in here," said Rose´s owner, Nancy Herrington, explaining the pup´s short attention span.
Over the next few months, Rose will have plenty of opportunities to get used to working with teenagers. The graphics design department at the school is helping Herrington, a Daytona Beach Shores author, write and design her next children´s book starring the 4-year-old bulldog.
The 20-page publication, aimed at kindergarten through second-graders, will be the third in Herrington´s "Laughing and Learning Series." It will feature a topic chosen by the class -- bullying.
"Bullying starts early," said Regina Wise, graphic design teacher at the middle school. "I´ve seen so many kids deal with it. You can see the pain on their faces. They feel so rejected and sad and they want to be part of a group."
The timing is perfect, Wise said, because the middle school is one of 22 schools in the Volusia County district to start an anti-bullying program. Teachers, bus drivers and custodians will be trained to handle scuffles and to promote diversity and tolerance, said district spokeswoman Nancy Wait. Pupils will receive handouts, watch videos and see posters around the school about bullying.
To introduce the topic in the book, Rose will become jealous of a new puppy brought into the family and will run away, Wise said. While wandering the countryside, Rose is confronted by a group of bullies, but the new dog saves her by scaring the bullies away, and they become instant friends, she said.
The class may bring in their own dogs to use as "bullies." Just in case that doesn´t work, pupil Dannie Shields, 12, started looking for dog pictures online to use. He came across a mean-looking Chihuahua wearing a bandana and a cowboy hat. The dog may seem small, but bullies come in all shapes and sizes, Wise said.
Eighth-grader Josh Vauthier, 14, is the reason the class and the author found each other. In August, he and his mother met Herrington as she sold books at the Children´s Expo at the Ocean Center.
"I had to see the dog," said mother Sherry Lamantia, who had stopped to talk to the author after seeing Rose sitting prim and proper in a red wagon.
During their conversation, Herrington mentioned a need for a new graphic artist. For her last two books, she paid area professionals to superimpose Rose playing basketball, catching fish, selling lemonade and traveling to space. However, the bills were too big, she said.
That´s when Lamantia offered her son´s help. Josh had become passionate about graphics design after joining a class in the sixth grade. By the next year, he won several awards and was spending hours at home learning how to run sophisticated computer programs, his mother said.
Herrington liked the idea of including the entire class and the group met for the first time Wednesday. She named Josh as project director for the book.
"It was a divine appointment," Herrington said.
While working with Herrington, the class will learn how to write a book and get published. They also will learn some of the most advanced computer software programs, Wise said.
Herrington bought the class applications for three computers, and the teacher hopes to solicit businesses to buy the $189 programs for the 34 other computers. The class also can use some of the proceeds from the book to pay for computer upgrades and equipment, Wise said.
For now, the group is considering "A Jealous Moment" as the name for the book. But, they may ask the school to brainstorm other ideas.