Thursday, December 8, 2011

Educator’s story a real page-turner: Librarian-turnedauthor is campus celebrity


By Dashiell Young-Saver
School librarians usually work with books on a secondhand basis: They order, categorize, check out, shelve and read them to students.
But EARTHS Magnet School librarian Judeanne Wiley has had a hand in a couple of books from the beginning.
A Thousand Oaks resident with a 12-year-old son, Wiley wrote, illustrated and self-published two children’s e-books this summer: “The Earth-Friendly Mermaid” and “A Tale of Loch Ness”—that are available on Amazon.

“Reading to students and writing books is really what I enjoy doing,” Wiley said.
The e-books have already had an impact on the students at EARTHS. Wiley dedicated “The Earth-Friendly Mermaid” to the school, and Sarah Allen, a secondgrade student there, has read it multiple times.
“Knowing the author is probably a main reason that she’s read it so many times,” said Sarah’s mother, Grace.
Wiley began writing children’s stories for her nieces in the 1980s, hence her pen name, Aunt Judeanne. In all, she’s written about 15 stories, which she plans to publish over the next few years.
Illustrating her books takes a great deal of time and experience, Wiley said.
“The (watercolors) take the longest. The art is the most time-intensive part of making the books.”
Wiley’s experience comes from working as a freelance graphic designer for more than 15 years. Among her many assignments, she created illustrations for the children’s book “The Tree of Life” and made the drawings of Sarah for the film version of Stephen King’s novel “Children of the Corn.”
Wiley became a librarian at EARTHS, a small magnet school focused on science, technology and the environment, three years ago. She switched careers so her work schedule would coincide with her son’s school schedule.
“She is like a celebrity on campus,” said school principal Jennifer Boone. “She has a very positive relationship with the students and is an excellent role model.”
According to Boone, EARTHS focuses on instilling in its students the values of community service and conserving the environment. “The Earth-Friendly Mermaid” fits the school’s message well.
“It’s about environmental solutions,” Wiley said. “Children need to realize that they are the ones who can and will create positive changes in the environment.”
Since the book fits their curriculum, teachers at the school have read it aloud in their classes. So has Wiley.
“When she reads a book to the students, she’s really inspiring because she knows what it’s like to write one,” said second-grade teacher Debra Satz. “Her attitude transfers to the kids, and they just love her.”
Other faculty members agree that having a librarian who writes provides an extra level of learning and development for the children.
“A lot of librarians are part-time and don’t even have time to read to students,” said kindergarten teacher Melissa Logan. “So the kids are very lucky to have a librarian to give them the perspective of a reader as well as a writer.”
Wiley plans to publish four to six books a year for the next three years and to create a website, audiobooks, games and a young- adult novel.
“I’m just at the start of it all,” she said.


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