River, a kindergarten student at New Hampton Community School, was pleased when Bristol author Dorothy Prive autographed her book, "Stanley Big Thumbs," for him last Friday. (Photo by Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
February 27, 2019NEW HAMPTON – Dorothy "Dolly" Prive dropped by New Hampton Community School last week to not only read her newly published book to the students, but to share some special news. The book is dedicated to them.
Prive worked for several years in the after school program at NHCS, and loved the boys and girls she met. When she finally decided to write a children's book she said she had to include them in her dedication because it was they who inspired her to write it.
The book also has another great feature. Her publishing company, Mascot Books, worked with her to use a large font with special spacing.
"The book is actually designed to make it easier for people with dyslexia to read it," she explained.
That feature was important to her. Prive herself struggled with dyslexia until her fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Beattie, helped her finally find the joy in reading. Beattie is also remembered in the dedication.
Titled "Stanley Big Thumbs," the main character of the book is fashioned after an actual stray cat who once "adopted" Prive and her husband Roger. She said the cat would sit on her back porch rail meowing every day but once they began to feed him, they all became friends. Prive said the cat had an extra toe on each paw that looked like a big thumb so she named it Stanley after her favorite uncle who also had big hands.
In her story, Stanley Big Thumbs and his family live on a farm where they help by catching mice in the barn. The other animals on the farm always make fun of Stanley however when he tries to run but trips over his big thumbs. That makes him very sad. Stanley's mother tells him his thumbs are a special gift though and he should find a way to make them work for him, not against him.
As he grows, Stanley discovers he is a much better mouse hunter than the other cats who live in the barn, and that makes the farmer and his wife very happy. With his big thumbs, he is also better at climbing trees, keeping him safe from a fox that lives nearby. One day though his great big thumbs make him a hero.
After hearing the entire story, kindergarten and first grade children had many questions for Prive. One asked who drew the colorful pictures in the book. They learned that the illustrator, Amber Chunko, is not only from Alexandria, she also graduated from Newfound Regional High School. Prive said they met at Art Escape one day and while admiring her work, she asked Chunko to draw a picture of a cat.
"You're hired," Prive told her when the drawing was just as she herself pictured Stanley Big Thumbs in her book.
Another student wanted to know if it was "hard or easy" to write a book. Prive said it took her a year to write "Stanley Big Thumbs" and it wasn't always easy but it was a lot of fun.
The children also noted many lessons they learned from the book, such as people should keep trying when faced with challenges and they should never make fun of someone who might be different from themselves.
Throughout the morning Prive visited with each of the classes at NHCS as a final wrap up to their Read Across Newfound week. She also autographed any books the students bought to take home and share with their families.
Currently Prive is in the midst of writing her second book. The story will once again feature Stanley as he introduces readers to a new character, Lloyd the Llama, who also faces special challenges.
"Llamas have some pretty bad habits and maybe Stanley will help him," she told the students.
To find out what happens in "Stanley Big Thumbs," the book is being made available at DJ's Crafts in downtown Bristol or can be ordered online at www.mascotbooks.com.