Retired teacher publishes first bookPublished 6:13pm Thursday, November 29, 2012
Retired teacher Judy Singley has published her a book and she will be signing copies of “ABC Trees” Saturday at Sam Adams Middle School as part of the Holiday Bazaar.
The Bazaar runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is part of the Christmas in Cassopolis day- long celebration.
The book is currently available at Nelson’s Herbs on Dailey Rd., the Fernwood Nature Center near Niles and online from Trafford Publications.
Singley walks through the woods for a unique reason: She finds alphabet letter shapes in trees and photographs them.
“It’s probably been over 12 years ago that I first saw letters in trees,” said Singley, who has taught at Edwardsburg High School, the Elkhart Learning Center, Southwestern Michigan College and Cassopolis Public Schools. “We had an enclosed sun porch on our other house that was edged by a row of trees. One day having morning coffee, I noticed the letter ‘H’ in the fence row. It was winter and the snow really accented the cross bar of the H. In the front yard, we had a grove of walnut and pine trees. I saw an ‘A’ among those trees.”
It was while teaching fourth grade in Cassopolis that she built a teaching unit around trees and conservation.
“One of my favorite books is ‘The Great Kapok Tree’ by Lynne Cherry,” Singley said. “I built a teaching unit on that book even before it appeared in one of our anthologies, each year adding new rain forest information. My appreciation for trees and their importance to the environment grew out of that unit. My fourth grade classes did a pop-up tree book project that included a persuasive essay about saving the rain forest.”
In 2006, Singley retired from teaching and found she had time to walk in the woods and take pictures.
“I never thought I would find all 26 letters when I started,” she said. “In fact, when I first told my husband I wanted to take pictures of letters in trees, he thought I was crazy. But after taking a few pictures and seeing what I was looking for, he began finding letters as well.”
That first fall, they found half the letters. Singley then began writing poems to go with the letters.
“In 2010, I was looking for the address of the Arbor Day Foundation so I could send them a query letter. I found their recommended reading list and there was a book called ‘ABCs Up in the Trees.’ I couldn’t believe it. Someone else had already published a book like mine. I sat in front of my computer and cried my eyes out. After that initial shock, I remember calming down and actually feeling happy that someone else had seen the same uniqueness in nature, and had followed it through to publication, but, at that point, I really thought it was the end of the line for my book.”
However, on the encouragement of her 89-year-old mother and a group of good friends, this past summer she contacted the author of “ABCs Up in the Trees.”
“I emailed the author and she was very supportive of my book,” Singley said. “There are lots of books written from different perspectives on the same subject.”
The book was sent to Trafford in July and was completed the end of September. Singley said she hopes that “ABC Trees” will make a connection with children and foster an appreciation for trees and the importance of protecting them and the environment.
“I wrote it for different age groups,” she said. “The poems at the top of each page are meant for young children just learning their letters. They will like the rhymes and can find and trace the letters with their fingers. Older children can read facts about trees from the paragraphs at the bottom of each page.”