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Former teacher’s book educates as well as entertains

Former teacher Rhonda Gatlin had more on her mind than just entertaining children when she wrote her first book, “Granny’s Cobbler: A Counting Book.”

“When I was first putting it together, I knew that I wanted the book to entertain kids,” Gatlin said. “But I also wanted to teach, so it’s a story of young girl gathering ingredients and counting berries by fives and tens, using repetitive language.”

The book tells the tale of young Aggie helping her grandmother make a cobbler and was inspired by memories of Gatlin’s own childhood in the small town of Hartford, Alabama. It is aimed at grade-school students, who are around the same age as Aggie.

Over the past few weeks Gatlin has done readings for classrooms at multiple elementary schools in the Las Vegas area. She will read to Boulder City children at Mitchell Elementary on Feb. 22-24 and Feb. 27, as well as for children at King Elementary on Feb. 28.

After writing the story and having another former educator edit her work, Gatlin set out to find an illustrator. She said she could not find the right fit until she was pointed toward local artist and Dam Short Film Festival co-founder Lee Lanier, who had just finished illustrating a book for the first time.

“I’ve been painting a lot the last few years and my style is already kind of illustrative,” Lanier said. “So when I met with Rhonda we went over some old photos and the text of her book, and I did a drawing and then a sample page for her. It was a great fit and ended up being a great experience.”

Little more than a month later, Lanier had produce 10 original digital paintings and Gatlin was ready to publish. As a first-time writer, that part of the process was initially a bit intimidating, but, according to Gatlin, it ended up being the easiest part.

“I went with a company called AuthorHouse, and they help writers self-publish with step-by-step instructions the whole way,” Gatlin said. “I finished writing the book in September, and the book was published in time for the holidays, on Dec. 16, 2016.”

Gatlin and Lanier will host a book signing from 4-8 p.m. Feb. 25 in the lobby of the Boulder Dam Hotel. It will feature kid-friendly decorations and a live pianist.

“Granny’s Cobbler: A Counting Book” is available for $16.99 at Amazon.com, AuthorHouse.com and Barnesandnoble.com, as well as in person at the book signing.

Contact reporter Hunter Terry at hterry@bouldercityreview.com or call 702-586-6711. Follow him on Twitter @HunterBCReview

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