Former teachers now publishing books

Read aloud fun with great illustrations

Article by Valerie MacDonald

(Above image submitted: (L-R)Deb Kekewich & Jan Fluke)

You don’t have to go past the book’s soft-cover to know there will be an interesting story inside for a child. That’s because authors, Jan Fluke of Grafton and Deborah Kekewich of Cobourg, have created titles that tease and chosen illustrations that pique, a child’s curiosity.

The pair, retired teachers, are not just interested in creating stories but encouraging young readers to make books an important part of their lives.

“I think when we first started it, we thought it was a one time shot,” Kekewich told the News Now Network about their initial story, “Maizy’s Pet Quest: A Prickly Proposition!” But it quickly evolved into more than that as “Foster, the Dog” came next and then “Maizy’s Pet Quest: A Pony Please.”

“At this time…we’ve written eight,” Fluke said, and of these three have been self-published.

We talked about the benefit of strong oral traditions such as storytelling, simple rhymes, and songs that prepared the ear for an understanding of word patterns and provided the mind with a scaffolding for reading,” the pair have written on their website — The Story Snuggery —   — “We talked about rhymes and the rhythm of words, of playing with language, and developing a life-long love of reading.”

The success of their read-aloud books rely on good illustrations and illustrators. Sherrie Greig has done the Maizy ones, and Barbara Bickell, Foster the Dog. They are now working on another in the Maizy’s pet-quest series, but they declined to reveal what that pet will be although they said there is a tip in their previous book.

The books are “to be read for fun,” says Kekewhich but at the back of each are facts and some suggestions for discussion, revealing their teaching backgrounds. For example, in the first one, it tells readers that a porcupine is a rodent with both soft hair and sharp quills (which they do not shoot) and that wood is their favourite food. There are also additional activities on their website.

There are many lessons that could be learned and many messages that can be conveyed through books. We believe that lighthearted books can contain simple but important truths,” their website also states. “For example, FOSTER THE DOG speaks to friendship, patience, and loyalty. The Maizy series addresses the themes of differing viewpoints, unrealistic expectations, and unlikely friendships. The modelling of friendship in books teaches us how to deal with joy, disappointment, resilience, and much more.” 

During some fall markets, the pair shared their books and some of the activities they contain, and they plan to do this again, Fluke said.

In addition, their books (they cost $15) can be ordered from the website and through Shopify with free delivery in the Cobourg and Port Hope area, if you make this arrangement.

“We’re getting lots of (positive feedback),” Kekewich said.

Their books are suited for children up to age 10, with a new one coming out every three to six months. 


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