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Thursday

July 2014

31

Snuggling up with a good book, read by the author

Author shares book with Mukwonago Library

In the small, quiet meeting room of the Mukwonago Community Library several eager young readers waited, bouncing about the room. In the center of the room, a stand covered in green material loomed above the youngsters. As South Milwaukee author Janet Halfmann opened the first book, the children learned they would soon become anchors to kelp floating in the ocean as Halfmann read "Good Night, Little Sea Otter," one of her latest children's titles recently released.

The story of a baby sea otter saying goodnight to every one of his ocean friends unfolded with the children holding tight to the strands of kelp to keep mama and baby otter from floating away. The gentle story was one of two Halfmann shared during Bedtime Buddies story time at the library.

Halfman, is an award-winning author of more than 30 fiction and non-fiction children's books. Before becoming a children's author, Halfmann worked as a daily newspaper reporter, children's magazine editor, and creator of coloring and activity books for Golden Books. The mother of four and grandmother of four, Halfmann enjoys gardening, exploring nature, visiting living-history museums, and spending time with her family when she is not writing.

Halfmann got the idea for "Good Night, Little Sea Otter" when she was writing a magazine article about two young scuba divers off California's coast.

"In researching the many creatures the teens met in the underwater kelp forest, I especially fell in love with the sea otters," Halfmann said on her website www.janethalfmann.com . "I was fascinated by how the mother sea otter wraps herself and her baby in kelp strands for the night so the two won't drift away. I knew I had found the perfect pair to star in a bedtime story."

Turning to her book, "Fur and Feather," published by Sylvan Dell Publising in August, Halfmann assigned animal characters to everyone in the room as Sophia, with help from her grandmother's huge sewing box, helps her animal friends find clothes after whipping winds whisk the clothes off her friends in a dream. Children helped Halfmann find the needed materials in a big sewing box as she read her Gold Moonbeam Award-winning book.

"I decided to write Fur and Feathers after I noticed on Sylvan Dell Publishing's website that the editor was looking for a story on animal "wraps." Right away that topic fascinated me. As I brainstormed possibilities, I came up with the idea of having a storm blow off all of the animals' coverings, and that worked perfectly," Halfmann said on her website. "I decided it would be fun to dress the "naked" animals in kid clothes, which I did, but I thought the story needed something more."

That's when she remembered a big sewing basket filled with odds and ends that she always kept nearby while her kids were growing up. Sophia could find things in the basket and create new coats just right for the animals.

"In writing the story, I used each class of animals so the story would be not only fun, but as educational as possible," said Halfmann.

With more than 30 books published, most of her writing is for picture books now.

"I find that the many years I spent thinking in pictures while creating coloring books comes in very handy now in writing picture books," Halfmann said on her website.

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