January 21, 2014

Our Neighbors: Teacher pens book about bullying

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Being bullied is something John Avera never experienced, but unfortunately this problem affects millions of children.

For several years the Laurel County teacher had thoughts about writing a book about the one thing that causes thousands of students to wake up every day afraid to go to school.

“I have seen students being bullied. Bullying is a very big topic in our schools today. But the schools I work at do a great job on keeping it at bay. Bullying can turn something that should be fun, like recess, into a nightmare for students.”

“I decided that I didn’t need to sit around anymore, I just needed to write the book — thus “Ella Minnow Peed” was created.”

“For a long time I had the characters in mind but never sat down to write. So, I guess one could say the brainstorming phase was about 10 years before I finally began to write the story. It went fairly quick, I just compared it to a regular school day and what someone like Ella might endure. It took about two weeks to write it ‘freehand’ and then to put it on the computer for the first draft took about two more days. All in all, after the brainstorming phase, it was about three months from the first written word to publishing and printing.”

The children’s book is about a fish that is bullied at school. Ella Minnow is a tiny fish that is starting her first day at the Lake Cumberland Fish School. She is very worried about being so small in such a large school. Ella is bullied all day until she goes to music class. There she teaches children that everyone is special in their own way and that each person has their own talents.

“Ella surprises everyone in music class. So much so they start to see her for what she really is — a talented little fish. Can’t say much more, I want children (and parents) to read the book.”

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Now that school is out, what are your family’s summer vacation plans?

A. No major plans. We will probably hang out around Laurel County.
B. Going to the beach!
C. Kentucky has a lot of wonderful state parks, and we plan to visit a few and enjoy quality family time.
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