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Author/teacher Carol Miller pens book about Winn Primary

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By Dave Taylor

Everyone at Kathryn Winn Primary School is reveling in the success of a children’s book about the school, written by local first grade teacher Carol Miller and published by nationally recognized publisher Mascot Books, based in Herndon, Va.

“Hello, Wisdom and Wonder” is a colorful publication illustrated by Mascot staff artists Brad Vinson and Danny Moore. In the hardcover book, elementary school readers join Kathryn Winn Primary’s two lively Panther cub mascots, “Wisdom” and “Wonder” as they experience events and activities that make the school a special place for students, teachers, administrators and parent volunteers.

Miller says the inspiration to write the book came indirectly from a brain-storming session among teachers in the local school district about how to build an interest in attending college among elementary-age children.

“We had been trying to determine ways that we could impact that,” she said. “At our level we said well, if we start talking about it when they’re little maybe they’ll think of course they’re going to college. “

One day Miller was shopping at a Barnes & Noble bookstore and came across some children’s books written about the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville.

“As I got to looking at them they used the language that we wanted to introduce the kids to,” she said. “They had pictures of the real buildings” on the UK and U of L campuses. “To us it was like being able to take them there. We couldn’t actually take them on a field trip there but it was just like taking them on a field trip there. Of course, we have a lot of Cardinal and Wildcat fans here so it’s a perfect introduction.”

 In the back Miller found information from the publisher about writing “your own book about your own school,” she said.

Mascot Books specializes in children’s books and has published more than 200 titles featuring professional sports team books and university titles that are sold in major retail outlets and college campuses throughout the country. The publisher has sold over two million books and has recently launched a popular Mascot Books Author Program.

“Hello, Wisdom and Wonder” is the first elementary school book  the Herndon, Virginia based publisher has published in Kentucky.

“To hear and see the excitement our customized books bring to the school community is very rewarding,” Shani Seidel, Mascot Books Sales and Fundraising Manager, said. “The students, teachers and administrators love that their book is as unique as their school. We’re excited to offer a creative and innovative reading and fundraising program to our school partners.”

The product provides an excellent way to build spirit among current and new members of any school, community or organization, according to the company’s web site www.mascotbooks.com. Children’s books offer a great way to promote or recruit for schools, companies, non-profit organizations, churches and other organizations and provide keepsakes that can be cherished for years to come.

Mascot Books “started out with a formula and then (new principal) Gerda (Wise) came on board, Miller said. “We had a different principal last year. When Gerda came on board the whole school changed in the middle of me writing this book so I had to go back and change everything. So their formula kind of went out the window.”

Prior to this school year mascots Wisdom and Wonder didn’t exist, although the school did have t-shirts with a cub emblem on them, Miller said. Now, in addition to the mascots appearing in the book, there are cutout mascots of Wisdom and Wonder on the school bulletin board and costumes have been created.

“It’s really fun because we had costumes made so whenever we have an assembly we have kids dress up in the costumes,” Miller said. “It’s really fun and motivating and exciting.”

Names for the mascots came from a theme that the school staff adopted as the Kathryn Winn motto—wonder leads to wisdom.

“There was one cub in the original version of the book,” Miller said. After Wise became principal, “Wisdom and Wonder sort of caught on and I thought let’s put those in the book and so we have two mascots. They’re just really fun.”

Miller took a bunch of photographs of  at Winn Primary which the publisher’s artists used those for the illustrations. The book serves as an introduction to the school.

“We figure we’ll sell more of them to kindergartners than anybody else after this year,” she said. “It lets you know what kind of programs we have after school and what happens in our classrooms.”

Within the pages of the delightfully illustrated book, Wisdom and Wonder recite the Winn Chant—which Miller wrote for the school and the students recite every morning—attend an art and music class, enjoy a slice of pizza during lunch with friends, visit the library, and enjoy playing during recess. They also reflect on their favorite events at their school including field day, Relay for Life, the Christmas musical and the First Lego League Robotics Team. The playful mascots even climb the rock wall and ride a stationary bike in the gym.

The book promotes reading, builds school spirit and serves as a fundraiser for the school, according to Miller.

“All of the money goes to the school. We’re trying to raise money for our playground.”

Miller, who has taught at Kathryn Winn for the past 18 years, says the first graders in her classroom often beg her to read the book in class.

“A lot of them have their own copy and they keep them in their book bags,” she said, “so when I get mine out they get their book out and they read along. It’s readable at this level. It’s a keepsake. It’s been really exciting! The kids were real excited about the book. I read it at an assembly and the parents that were there were all excited about it. We have a whole bunch of books. We over-ordered. We have a whole bunch to sell.”

“Hello, Wisdom and Wonder” is available exclusively through Kathryn Winn Primary School. To support Kathryn Winn Primary and purchase a copy of “Hello, Wisdom and Wonder,” contact Carol Miller at carol.miller@carroll.kyschools.us.