United Way looks for local author

Published 1:45 pm Saturday, September 18, 2010

The United Way of Freeborn County is seeking local talent to write and illustrate its 10th annual children’s book.

Each year, the Freeborn County chapter partners with local business sponsors to publish the book in an effort to promote early childhood literacy.

And, each year, the organization relies on local writers and illustrators to volunteer their time and resources to produce the book.

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“We’ve had such great success with local talent that we’d like to expand our reach and see what ideas the community can come up with,” said United Way Executive Director Ann Austin.

Last year’s book, “Ava Finds a Home,” was co-written by Mike and Patty Stanley of Albert Lea.

Their photography illustrated the book.

According to Patty Stanley, the book was based on a true story about their personal experience adopting their dog Ava, written through Ava’s eyes. A large dog rather than a puppy, Ava was repeatedly passed over for adoption.

“We fostered her for about three weeks and then just couldn’t give her back,” Patty said. “She couldn’t talk, but you could tell she was so excited to be with us.”

According to Austin, “Ava Finds a Home” was so well received that the authors printed additional copies, available for purchase at the Humane Society of Freeborn County. “Because of the subject matter, we got calls from across the nation,” she said.

United Way’s ninth book, titled “Apples: 1,2,3,” will be printed this winter and released next spring. Written by local author Bill King and illustrated by Rachel Ringham, the story is about the production of apples “from seed to store” and highlights the adventures of Johnny Appleseed.

Each year, the book is distributed to all Freeborn County students in kindergarten through second grade.

Book guidelines:

Book ideas will be reviewed by a small committee of local experts in early childhood education. To be considered for publication, the committee has set the following guidelines:

  • Must be an original story by a local author (all ages accepted).
  • Have 24 pages or fewer.
  • Contain on average 12 to 40 words per page with large print.
  • Include illustrations (photographs or sharp/color images are preferred).
  • Use language that is appropriate for children in kindergarten through second grade.

The deadline for submissions is Oct. 21. Submissions will be reviewed by the panel and the author will be notified in November. The book will be written during the spring/summer of 2011, finalized fall of 2011 and published in the spring of 2012.
Manuscripts and illustrations should be sent to United Way of Freeborn County, 341 S. Broadway, Albert Lea, MN 56007. Submissions can also be dropped off at the United Way office, located in the lower level of U.S. Bank in downtown Albert Lea.