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Thursday, April 10, 2014
Pirates, tigers and golfers marched along the track of Hammond Hill Elementary School on Thursday afternoon.
These dressed-up children were led in their Character Parade by the woman who sparked this year’s theme. That woman was Georgia author Julie Alfriend Ferris.
Last year, Ferris published the children’s book “Badges, Egg Salad and Green Jackets: The Masters A to Z.”
When school media specialist Rhonda Criss stumbled upon this book, she gave Ferris a call. Ferris agreed to come for a day filled with book presentations, a luncheon with students, and, finally, the Character Parade itself.
“This year, our school theme has been designed around Ferris’ book ... Our students dressed up as characters from different A to Z books as well as a golf theme for our parade,” teacher Nikki Mock said via a release.
Ferris, a preschool teacher, wrote this book because of a conversation she had with her now-8-year-old daughter Kathryn.
This conversation took place during a previous Masters Week, Ferris said.
Her husband, Bob, had spent all day at the tournament. That evening, Kathryn got very curious as to what exactly occupied her father all day. She asked her mom a series of questions about the tournament. From this line of questioning came the idea to answer all of them – and more – in a children’s picture book.
It took Ferris more than a year to finish her book. Her own experiences aided the process. Ferris, a Thomson, Ga., native, worked at the tournament twice while in high school. She was stationed at the concessions stand.
“I had no interest in it before then,” Ferris said. “Then, I realized how big of a deal it is ... It was a lot of fun.”
She had returned at least every other year since then.
These experiences helped her brainstorm the points in her book.
“I tried to think of keywords that children maybe were not familiar with,” she said.
She, sitting in the Hammond Hill library before the parade, gave her entry for B as an example. In her book, B stands for Badge.
“Children might not know you need a badge instead of a ticket to get in,” she said.
Her book touches on more topics, such as the plants you might see, the food you might eat to the players themselves. Her own favorite player is Phil Mickelson.
“I think he’s a good person and a great role model,” she said.
Ferris graduated from Georgia Southern University with a degree in early childhood education. She taught first grade in Grovetown before moving to Roswell, Ga. There, she teaches preschool at her church.
As an author, she has spoken to schools around Thomson and Roswell. Hammond Hill was the first school Ferris has visited within South Carolina.
“Speaking at schools is one of my favorite parts of being an author,” she said.
Whenever she presents, she not only reads the book, but explains the steps it took for her to get her final product. To demonstrate the writing process, Ferris writes a “book” with each group of students.
To start, she pulls out some chart paper and writes out the alphabet on the side. It is then up to the students to fill in the blanks. They must use the topic Ferris chooses. She usually chooses the students’ own school.
“I tell them, ‘When you write a book, write something you know a lot about,’” she said.
Ferris also might mention to the students about the people she has met along the way to getting her book published. One is her illustrator, Joshua Henry Thomas. Ferris knew of Thomas through a mutual acquaintance.
“I baby-sat his girlfriend,” Ferris said, laughing at the coincidence.
She became familiar with his artwork and knew he held a personal interest in golf. The two worked together for about six weeks. His biography is in the back of the book. The book is dedicated to Ferris’ grandmother, Dorothy Coleman Alfriend.
“She was a librarian and loved books,” Ferris said.
Dorothy never went to The Masters. Both of Ferris’ children have now been. The family plans on going back this Monday. Until then, Ferris was enjoying her time at Hammond Hill.
“It’s been a lot of fun ... I have never been a grand marshal of parade before,” she said before she took her place on the track.
Ferris’ book can be purchased online through her publisher Mascot Books or through online retailers like Amazon. It can also be bought locally at Posh Tots, Rivers and Glen, Design Images, Learning Express, Cudos, Trends and Traditions Antique Mall, La Dee Da and Arts and Heritage Center of North Augusta.
For more information on Ferris, visit her website www.junebugprint.com.
Stephanie Turner graduated from Valdosta State University in 2012. She then signed on with the Aiken Standard, where she is now the arts and entertainment reporter.