Working with children can be very rewarding, and for one former teacher it can even help inspire a book.
Chrys Wimer, a substitute teacher for the Clovis Unified School District, recently published her first children’s book, “Wally’s Misadventure.”
“It is about a young raccoon who has been cooped up too long and he wants to go explore the woods with his friends, but none of his friends can go,” Wimer said. “He decides to break the rules and go on an exploration anyway, and he gets into some trouble along the way.”
Wally interacts with his animal friends – a beaver, a wren, a bear, and a porcupine – as he ventures through the woods and comes across a rattlesnake, a wolf and even a dive-bombing blue jay.
As she was writing the book, Wimer said that it took her a while to come up with the name Wally. But for his bird friend, she had a special name in mind: Ivy.
“She is named after my grandmother, who lived to be 105,” Wimer said. “She loved music, especially gospel music, so it really fit to name the bird after her.”
Though the book’s publication was finalized in May, Wimer said that the writing process was spread out over several months. She wrote the basics and then returned later to add details until she got it just right.
Wimer said that as she wrote, she was also substitute teaching frequently at Miramonte Elementary School in a second grade classroom. She was able to share the writing process with the students, including the difficulty of communicating with a Pennsylvania-based illustrator to get her vision of Wally perfected.
“When it was finally published and I received the copy, I was able to read it to them at the end of the school year, and that was really exciting,” Wimer said. “They get so excited when I get a chance to go back and reread it to them, which is nice to know that they’re still excited about the story even though they’ve heard it.”
Wimer also donated a copy of “Wally’s Misadventure” to the Miramonte Elementary School library and to the school’s raffle for lucky students to own.
Wimer said that her work as an elementary school teacher and now as a substitute has impacted her writing.
“I see a lot of children that get into their playing, whatever it is, and they don’t think about the consequences of what they’re doing,” she said.
“Wally’s Misadventure” uses the woodland creatures to mirror the mischief that young children make.
“Part of it is the enjoyment of nature, and to think about what we’re doing and to pay attention to what’s going on around us,” Wimer said.
“Wally’s Misadventure” is available to purchase at bookstores like Barnes and Noble, and it is also available through Amazon and the Apple iTunes store.
Wimer will also be attending the Clovis Book Barn’s December Book Festival on Dec. 1, a book signing featuring local authors and illustrators.