‘A Week With Waffles’ Children’s Book Sales Support Emergency Scholarship Fund | Education

Williamsport, Pennsylvania – A number of animals have creatively aided children’s development over the years: a hat-wearing cat, a honey-loving bear, a curious monkey, a big red dog and an even more yellow bird tall, among them.

Make room in this menagerie for Waffles, an adorable guinea pig who makes his debut in a children’s book – and whose enchanting story will also benefit students at the Pennsylvania College of Technology.

“A Week With Waffles,” endearingly written by real-life Waffles housemate Tom Speicher and vividly illustrated by Marina Saumell, was recently published and is available on Amazon in paperback editions ($7.99) and Kindle ($3.99). It can also be purchased at the Otto Bookstore, 107 W. Fourth St.

Last year, Speicher co-wrote and published a football-themed book, “Bucky Deacon’s Dilemma,” for college audiences, and wanted to try something different the second time around.

“I thought it would be fun to do something for preschoolers and elementary school kids,” he explained. “And I knew it would be a great way for kids to learn about the days of the week, as well as explore their own lives and activities – and what they have in common with waffles.”

Some readers may relate to the fact that Waffles is an only child, for example, and the day-to-day structure allows for positive lessons ranging from nutrition to exercise to reflection.

Befitting Speicher’s background as a storyteller – he’s an award-winning video writer/producer at Penn College – it took him just a few hours to sketch out what needed to be depicted on each page. And when it came time to polish that tale into a fully realized children’s book, he knew exactly who to turn to.

“I was inspired by Megan Rogers’ book,” he said, referring to a fellow “Meet Mason” post about his son with special needs illustrated by Saumell. “I was so taken with the artwork that I sent Marina the draft of ‘Waffles’ to see if she would be interested.”

Speicher also sent photos of Waffles, a 7-year-old Abyssinian guinea pig who “likes to sleep and eat” and has a particular fondness for grapes and his dwelling (a purple plastic igloo).

He didn’t have to wait long for an answer, because Saumell thought waffles were adorable and knew young people would too.

“I loved the idea of ​​illustrating a book on the days of the week. Tom wrote the story in a way that involves the kids, asking them about their routines, which I think is great,” she said. “Children will have the opportunity to write their own activities in the weekly program at the end of the book. I like the idea of ​​giving readers the opportunity to interact with the book in a different way.

Speicher – who dedicates the book to his daughter, Katie, and his late nephew, Tim Baltz – included a number of other personal touches. Local readers will notice references to Penn College, Williamsport Crosscutters, and personal training gym TLC Fitness; the author’s favorite Minnesota Vikings are depicted in a banner on the wall and a T-shirt; and a copy of “Bucky Deacon’s Dilemma” adorns Waffles’ library.

There’s also a play date with a variety of other creatures, all real pets of people known to Speicher – an illustration that’s among Saumell’s favourites, if not his trickiest to portray.

“It was a really difficult scene, because the characters were animals of different sizes and a fish in a bowl, and they were supposed to play together,” she said. “I found it helpful to show the small characters in the front and the larger ones in the back so we could see them properly. I thought it was a good way to show them that they were playing the tag.

Saumell creates his first drafts and sketches by hand, then works on a graphics tablet to complete the final renders and paint them digitally. An accomplished artist with over 30 books to her credit, she is proud to add “A Week With Waffles” to her resume.

“I’m happy with the final illustrations in the book, but I’m open to feedback from children and their parents,” she said. “It’s really important to me, because it’s how I can improve myself and create better works of art.”

Speicher is also pleased, noting the welcome “little touches” Saumell has added to flesh out Waffles’ personality, like her clothes when dining with a neighbor or the glasses she wears when sorting the mail towards the end of the week. the week. They all come together to engage readers, who are sure to embrace the recognizable world of Waffles.

“I hope it puts a smile on people’s faces, young and old,” he said.

As with “Bucky Deacon’s Dilemma,” proofreading assistance was provided by Jennifer A. Cline, editor of Penn College Magazine. And, as was the case with this previous book, a portion of the proceeds from The Adventures of Waffles will go to the college’s emergency scholarship fund.

“Tom’s book sparks the imagination of young minds, while directly supporting scholars with unforeseen financial circumstances as they pursue their studies,” said Loni N. Kline, Vice President of Academic Relations/Director of philanthropy. “He makes a big difference with his words. I would call it a genuine, philanthropic version of a literary genius.

“A Week With Waffles” might not be the end of the adventures either: If an editor was interested in a multi-volume series, Speicher said the ever-versatile guinea pig could share stories from the beach or the gym, among many other possibilities.

Tom Speicher, writer/video producer at the Pennsylvania College of Technology, has written a children’s book about the week-long adventures of his 7-year-old guinea pig.

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