Author shares book — and story behind it — with students
Last updated 3/22/2022 at Noon
Bethanne Blann of Camp Sherman, aka “Mrs. Snowplow,” visited Sisters Elementary School on Friday, March 11, to share her book “Mr. & Mrs. Snowplow Are Back!” She explained the story behind the story, and provided insights on the writing process.
All Sisters Elementary School students K-4, in two separate groups, heard Blann read her book aloud, with illustrations from the book displayed on a large screen behind her.
At the outset of her talk Bethanne said she had three rules: 1. Have fun. 2. Make someone smile, and 3. See rule number 1.
According to Bethanne, who has written three books related to business productivity, the idea for the book came from her late husband, Dave Blann, after he came home from plowing the roads around Camp Sherman and told her, “I have a really good idea for a children’s story.”
The couple decided then and there to work on it together, which they did over the course of time. The story centers around a town called Snowville that bears uncanny resemblance to Camp Sherman, where the Blanns have been part of the community for many years. Mr. Snowplow and the family dog, Snowball, help save the day when a local girl needs medicine to be delivered to the hospital where she is being treated.
Dave Blann worked in Camp Sherman for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office beginning in the 1990s, but passed away in February 2019, about two years before his planned retirement. While he never got to see the final book with illustrations, the writing was completed just a few weeks before he died.
“He would have absolutely loved the completed project with the illustrations,” said Bethanne.
“We worked on it and tweaked it and then put it aside from time to time, because we both had other things to do since we were not professional authors,” she explained. “It took about a year before we felt happy with it, but then we had to come up with someone to do the pictures since neither of us were artists.”
After a number of contacts with artists the Blanns did not feel they had found the right one, but when a friend suggested her nephew in North Carolina, and the hunt was over.
The artist, Max Huffman, had never visited Camp Sherman, but used photographs to produce the drawings for the book.
Bethanne pointed out to students that every author has to figure out what works best for them.
“Some people get up very early and write, others do it late at night,” she said. “I prefer the mid-morning when I feel most awake.”
Hands shot up in the air when Bethanne asked the kids how many of them thought they would like to write a book. According to one teacher, after the assembly two third-graders were overheard talking about how one of them could be the writer and the other the illustrator of a book together.
She made a recommendation to the students about how to collect ideas for a book in a journal so that when they are ready to actually write the book they will have all sorts of ideas already recorded. When asked whether she had plans to write another book, she said, “I don’t know, but maybe a great idea will pop into my head and I will do it again.”
Having an author visit the school touches on a number of goals the school has, including providing career interests as well as showing relevancy to what is being learned in the classroom.
School media manager/librarian Alicia Hall said, “Being able to see a real author in real life makes kids think, ‘Hey maybe I could do that,’ and to have an author who lives right here in our area makes that even more real.”
The book is self-published and is available locally at Paulina Springs Books in Sisters. Bethanne donated two copies to the Sisters Elementary School library so all children would have a chance to hold it in their own hands.