A former Warren County resident has released a children's book titled "Molly B. Golly's Wonderful Dancing Debut!"
Bethany A. Hoppe, formerly of Russell, is a 1988 graduate of Eisenhower High School and a 1997 masters graduate of Edinboro University. She now lives in the greater Nashville, Tenn., area where she teaches communications at Middle Tennessee State University.
Hoppe said she believes "if children can't see it, they can't be it", which led her to write the story of a "spitfire" 9-year-old girl who discovers wheelchair dance through her magical pink and purple wheelchair
Writing the book was something Hoppe had wanted to do for some time, because she felt "kids with disabilities didn't see themselves in children's literature, and when they did it was a very clinical and isolated them in a way."
"I wanted to create a character that was just like any other kid that happened to have a disability," said Hoppe.
Influenced by Beverly Clearly's famous "Ramona The Pest" and Barbara Park's "Junie B. Jones", Hoppe said Molly B. Golly will be the first in a series with illustrator Andie C. Ayotte.
The two met at the university and collaborated over a whole semester and worked through winter break to complete the book. Hoppe said she wanted the illustrations to be up to date, somewhere between manga and anime that kids could relate to.
"It was one of those things, the things she said, the drawings she shared," Hoppe said of meeting Ayotte for the first time. "I knew she was the illustrator."
It's important for children with disabilities to see themselves in literature and open to possibilities that a lot aren't introduced to, she said.
"In my opinion, whenever you go to strive to be something or choose to be what you want to do when you grow up, you can't be it if you can't see it," she said. "The world for kids with disabilities can be isolated, every day life in a standard world and another life in a world their peers don't understand with doctors and appointments. I think it's important for those two worlds to mesh and kids with disabilities to be seen as typical kids."
Funds for "Molly B. Golly's Wonderful Dancing Debut!" were raised through Kickstarter and is available on www.amazon.com.
Hoppe is the daughter of Chevy Spicer of Russell and the late Dorie Spicer.