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Books and authors beguile Bergens students

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By Deb Hurley Brobst

The authors who attended the inaugural Authors Fair at Bergen Valley Elementary School on Friday didn’t simply read their books to the students; they inspired the children to write about their passions and to dream.

“It was 10 years before I showed (my book) to anyone,” children’s author Suzanne Brown, a Bergens parent, told a class of third-graders, “and they asked when was I going to get it published. And if you don’t try, you don’t succeed, right?” she asked the students.

Evergreen children’s author Frances Bonney Jenner used a presentation about her book to compliment students for using their imaginations and predicting the book’s plot.

Her responses were always positive, telling them they had good ideas, so she hoped they would become writers.

“Try to write the story that you’re most passionate about,” she told them.

The Authors Fair brought 19 authors to both schools to talk about the importance of writing. The authors, most of them local, taught classes on writing and spoke one-on-one with the students.

Kappy Kling, owner of HearthFire Books and Treats, and Bergens librarian Teri Schuch organized the event to show children that someone doesn’t have to be famous to write a book — that anyone with an idea can put a book together.

Brown read her book “The Night Before Christmas in Ski Country” to several classes. The book is a Colorado take on the classic “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” only this time Santa uses elk rather than reindeer to pull his sleigh, and he helps bring snow to ski country for Christmas.

Brown read her book to third-graders, asking questions as she went along and pointing out details in the illustrations.

Getting the book published took a long time, she told Cindy Cox’s class. Brown wrote the story in 2000 after her daughter was born as a special holiday book for the family to share. Each year, she made changes and additions.

Brown, who is a registered dietitian, said she was lucky because a publisher in Boulder snapped up the book. She has written other books for her family, but “The Night Before Christmas in Ski Country” is the only book she’s had published.

Jenner, a librarian, has written a historical fiction novel called “Prairie Journey,” and she spoke with students about the craft of writing.

While showing photos of the places depicted in the book, she told students: “When you are writing a story, have something fail so things get better. Otherwise you lose your readers.”

She told them that the descriptions of places in her book came to life after she visited them. For example, she traveled to Chimney Rock in Nebraska and climbed it so she could add details to her book.

She said it took five trips to various locales in Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming, Nevada and California before she could finish the book, which is a compilation of both prose and verse.

She’s now researching and writing a book about Billy the Kid during his adolescent years.

Jenner’s presentation inspired some students in the class to want to read the book.

“Her presentation was really cool,” third-grader Caroline Murray said. “She showed us a rattlesnake skin. It sounds like the book is very inspiring, and I can guess what happens.”

Third-grader Harry Ruleman added: “It would be a really good book to read. It was really cool to hear about the characters.”

A model student

Pine Junction resident Sue Allegrezza, who wrote “Billy Raccoon’s Grand Colorado Adventures,” read her book to three classes Friday morning and chatted with students in the library all afternoon.

Dave Johnson, a zookeeper at the Denver Zoo, sat in the library at a table where he shared his books with students and parents. Johnson, who has written “The Elephants of Denver” and “Narayana, the Unicorn of Nepal,” came to the Bergens authors fair by a more unusual route.

Johnson uses Sally Markey, a Bergens student, as the model for a character in his books who is a conservationist. Sally’s parents told Johnson about the book fair. Rather than talk about writing with the students, he talked about wildlife and being a zookeeper.

Kling was pleased with how the day went.

“The kids have been so excited,” she said. “It’s been thrilling to see it.”

Contact Deb Hurley Brobst at deb@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1041. Check www.CanyonCourier.com for updates.