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Former Cherokean in town Tuesday to read her new book for children

Friday, September 25, 2009

Jeanette Hopkins, who taught school in the Roosevelt and Garfield schools in Cherokee from 1987 - 1999, just had her first children's book, 'Lady Bug Waltz,' published yesterday, and she will be in town on Tuesday, Sept. 29, to promote the book.

Jeanette will be at Roosevelt Elementary School for a book reading with kindergarten and first grade students, and will also be appearing at The Book Vine at 4 p.m. for a book signing.

Jeanette Hopkins has been a classroom and environmental educator for over twenty years. After she left Cherokee, she taught three years in the Akron-Westfield School District, then taught at Morningside College in Sioux City. Jeanette is a past member of the Iowa Writing Project Advisory Board, and a Nationally Board Certified Teacher in the area of Middle Childhood Generalist.

Jeanette and her husband Bruce, who has retired from his job with the former Western Hills AEA, live in Sioux City. They are environmental writers, and share environmental experiences with teachers and environmental educators in workshops throughout the United States. The couple also enjoy "day tripping" throughout the country, and in the past few years, they have developed a series of road trips with their young grandchildren, who have learned to appreciate nature and develop a respect for the natural world. Bruce is currently writing a book centered on those day trips.

'The Lady Bug Waltz' came about as the author sat in the hospital with her granddaughter, Chloe, who has Congenital Heart Disease. As Chloe was awaiting one of her five open heart surgeries, Jeanette sang the self-composed song to Chloe every night, as a means of reassuring the youngster.

Jeanette has a keen appreciation for the delight young readers take in rhythm and rhyme, and she hopes that readers of all ages will find the music in 'The Lady Bug Waltz.' Of her book, she says, "The rhythm in the book assists in reading development. I'd really like to see experience, rhythm and rhyme back in the daily routine of the classroom ... I read in classrooms, and I try to select books that immediately engage the children and allow them to be part of the experience ... very transactional."

Jeanette's second book, 'The Juggler,' will be published in 2011 and promises to be a natural text that will engage the youngest of readers.

James S. Davis, Director of the Iowa Writing Project, says : "'The Lady Bug Waltz' is a bright, colorful (oversized 10" x 11") book for the truly young of any age. It personifies one of natures' marvels in a particularly humanizing way - through the elegant rhythm of the waltz. Both langauage and illustrations invoke images worth reading; wisely, the vocabulary doesn't underestimate its audience."

Donna Niday, Associate Professor of English Education at Iowa State University, says, "The story is a poem set to music, using rhyme and rhythm to depict the essence of the ladybug's dance in flight. Children and their parents or teachers can sing and play along, as the music and lyrics are included on the book's final page" (note: a compact disc of the 2 1/2 minute song is also included with purchase of the book, which has a retail price of $21.95. Jeanette's sister-in-law, Jane Bunell, who has sung with the Metropolitan Opera, provides the vocals on the CD, which was produced and arranged by Jane's son-in-law, making this a real all-around family project).

Jeanette is currently in the middle of a book tour throughout the upper midwest, and among her stops will be a return trip to Cherokee on December 7, 2009, for a Special Reading at the Middle School and, three nights later, on December 10, a benefit Concert for The Siouxland Heart Walk at Western Iowa Tech Community College in Sioux City, sponsored by The LifeLong Learning Program and the Vocal Music Department of WITCC. 'The Lady Bug Waltz' will be performed that evening by Jane Bunnell, and Miss Chloe McClure, now a kindergaten student in Rock Rapids, will dance. The Book People will donate 20% of their proceeds of all books/CDs sold that night to The Siouxland Heart Walk.

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