Missouri teacher pens children’s book about grandmother

Todd G. Higdon

Julie Pruitt, a Triway Elementary School fifth-grade communications and social studies teacher, has just released her book, “The Seasons with Momo.”

“My grandmother, Myrtle Hickman, and I were very close,” Pruitt said. “I spent most of my time with her. We did everything together. She was like my best friend, shared all of my secrets, and she passed away in February 2006. And I had a really hard time, so I decided to write a book about our relationship. Then we had another author, Sondra Grey, that came to Triway and I was talking to her about it and she said ‘You should try to get it published.’ I said ‘I don’t know’ and she said, ‘Well, try.’ I sent my manuscript in to Tate Publishing and they accepted it. And a year later, I have a book.”

The book, which has rabbits for characters, tells about what Pruitt and her grandmother did while Pruitt growing up.

“And it was always centered around the kitchen,” Pruitt said. “We gardened together, made pickles, canned fruits and vegetables, cooked — she was the best cook ever — so it is mainly centered on food and the garden and the kitchen. In the wintertime, we played games, music and things like that.

“I called her ‘Momo,’ so I don’t get a name, because she is the central character. So I am the one that gets to bask in her glow. She is Momo throughout the book. And since it is a children’s book, I try to use a repeating pattern on most of the pages. For example, ‘Momo is my teacher, my best friend.’ That is kind of the central theme of the book.”

The book takes place in Green Forest, Ark., Pruitt’s hometown, about 20 miles east of Eureka Springs, Ark.

Pruitt said the book is for children in preschool to first grade, but teachers could use it all the way through junior high school.

“If you wanted to do repeating patterns or study historical fiction,” said Pruitt.

The book holds a lot of special memories for Pruitt.

“My grandmother was the one that I counted on and shared things with,” said Pruitt. “And she was kind of my rock. I was the most important person in her life. I wrote the book to help me with the grieving, but also I wanted other people to know what an incredible lady she was and maybe stimulate other kids’ memories of their grandparents. She lived in town and my mom had to work everyday. My mom was the court clerk. My mom would drop me off and I spent a lot of time with her that way. And she lived close to school, so I would walk home, when I got to be school age. She was a very trendy grandma. When I was a teen-ager, I would rob her closet for clothes. My grandma danced, exercised and gardened.”

Pruitt said she did not do the illustrations for the book.

Pruitt started the book in September 2006, just months after Momo passed away.

The book costs $9.99 and currently can be purchased from Tate Publishing by logging onto the Web site at www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore or contacting Pruitt at 455-0639 or emailing her at pruittjulie@sbcglobal.net.

According to Pruitt, starting on Oct. 28, her book will be for sale in bookstores such as Books-a-Million, B. Dalton’s and Christian bookstores.

Currently, Pruitt is working on some new books.

“I am in the process of working on another one,” Pruitt said. “I am thinking about sticking with the Momo theme, but just doing something totally made up, like a winter adventure. I have another one, a children’s book, for probably the same age, but about a duck.”

Q and A

Is it hard to write a book?

“This one was very easy, because it was just straight from the heart. I just wrote it and cried. The one that I am writing about the duck, it is a little more difficult, because you don’t have that personal connection. So I am trying to find that personal connection with my character and build with it, like I did with this one.”

Is writing something that you always wanted to do?

“I like to write. But I never thought I was good enough. It was kind of a blessing from God. I think that he inspired me and encouraged me.”

What advice would you give someone that would like to write?

“If you have the desire, you should go for it. And if you don’t make it the first time, ask questions and research and keep trying. Because if you have the desire and the dream, you should pursue it.”

Neosho Daily News