The actual events that inspired the story of “The Day The Turkey Came To School” happened about 15 years ago when my daughter, Anna, was ten years old. I was driving her to her elementary school in Portage, Michigan one November day when a big turkey with an attitude did indeed have the school drive blocked. I remember thinking that very morning that I should write a story about it someday!
About three years ago, I was going through the stories on my computer and found a half page beginning to the story. I finished it in about an hour and thought it had potential to be my next book for kids.
When I sent it to my illustrator, Vicki Killion Guess, she liked it immediately but said she would need to do some research before she could draw and paint a turkey! A friend in Michigan took pictures of the actual school…Angling Road Elementary…and sent them to Vicki so she could picture how to paint the school and the drive for the book illustrations. (In case you are wondering, I did donate a copy of the book to the Angling Road School Library.)
Vicki and I had a lot of fun working on the story together and as a surprise for me, she painted my first grandchild, Graham Michael, in one of the crowd scenes. He is the baby in the red and white striped outfit being held by his father (my son, Ryan) in the DePauw shirt. Just for fun, Vicki also painted her own seven children in the crowd scenes.
One other secret about the book is that the heroine of the story, Miss Thompson, the second grade teacher, is based on my real-life daughter-in-law, Paige Thompson Sever. Since I am a huge fan of teachers and the wonderful jobs they do, I dedicated the book to all the teachers, including my dear friend and art teacher, Vicki Killian Guess.
While the story is about a turkey coming to school, it’s also about one of those unexpected events that bring people together and how people might react to such a surprising and funny situation. I didn’t intend for it to be a Thanksgiving story, but the combination of it being about a turkey and set in November, has made the book a popular one this time of year.
Vicki and I were both delighted and honored when “The Day The Turkey Came To School” was named the “Best Children’s Book” at the April 2018 North Texas Book Festival. Since then, many teachers and parents and grandparents have made the book a part of their Thanksgiving lesson plans and family traditions.
I’ve read it many times at schools and libraries and it is great fun for me to see the smiles on all the young faces as they listen to my turkey story and learn a little turkey trivia. Next month, I will have the pleasure of reading it for the first time in the city where it happened…at the Portage, Michigan Public Library.
“The Day The Turkey Came to School” can be found at a library near you, at a gift or book store near you, on Amazon, or for a signed copy, on my author website at janetseverhull.com