Niles author previews new book at reading

Published 9:00 am Thursday, January 25, 2007

By By MARCIA STEFFENS / Niles Daily Star
EDWARDSBURG – Last Tuesday was the perfect day to be talking about snowflakes as they floated from the sky.
The first graders in Denise Halgren's class at the Edwardsburg Primary School actually heard a story about snowflakes, read by the author of a children's book, "Winter's First Snowflake."
Cheri L. Hallwood, of Niles, described the process of how a book is produced from the idea to the final copy.
Her four granddaughters, ages one and a half to 13, were her inspiration, Hallwood told the children.
"They encouraged me to do this. I loved pretending to be five years old," she said. When she was watching them, she saw them "waiting at the window for the first snowflake to come," she added.
After she had her initial idea, she did a lot of research and learned facts about snowflakes, which she shared with the children. The largest snowflake ever measured, she added, was 15 by eight inches, found in Montana.
How the color of snowflakes changes, she also explained. Someday she hopes to visit Prince Edward Island, where the first snowflake is pink, she told the children.
All snowflakes have six points, but two blended together would look like 12, she explained.
The writing she uses is called lyrical rhyming. "It's challenging and fun," she added.
The entire process took 14 months before a book was in her hand. There was editing, correcting mistakes and many things to decide, such as whether the book would be a hard cover, and the size and the weight of the paper.
"I wanted the words to be white, like snowflakes and dance all over the pages," she said.
The response to the book and the presentation was surprising, as the youngsters asked excellent questions and praised the author.
The students were also the first to hear Hallwood's next story to be published in June, "The Curious Polka Dot Present."
That story has a little girl anticipating a birthday present sent from her grandmother.
They were also able to see an original drawing to be used for the cover, as the illustrator for Hallwood's books also visited the school.
Patricia M. Rose, also of Niles, was asked by Comeron Cleveland, the daughter of her friend, to come to her class.
Rose has also become friends with Hallwood, as she takes ideas and turns them into drawings colored with pastels.
She talked about imagination and how much she enjoys being an artist. She showed the process from the first sketches to the final drawings with the color added.
Hallwood is already working on a third book for the 2 to 8 age group, "One Wish for Winifred," which is expected to be published in the fall of 2008.