When a friend of Lauri MacKechnie asked her if she was aware of any children’s books about random acts of kindness, the lifelong Anoka resident was stumped.
“I said, jokingly, I’ll just write one myself,” MacKechnie said.
MacKechnie will be on hand for a book signing at Anoka’s Riverfest July 13 for her first self-published book, “The Child Who Changed the World.” It’s a children’s book about paying it forward.
The 32-page book starts out with an unnamed child, who sees a little girl drop her teddy bear. He picks it up, returns it to her and his good deed sets off a chain reaction of kindnesses among others.
It is MacKechnie’s belief that one is never too young to learn about changing the world with a bit of kindness.
A retired teacher who taught at Eisenhower Elementary School for 34 years, MacKechnie returned to the school to read her book to students. The kids were captivated as they listened to the story and looked for a hidden surprise (hint: it’s a small animal) on each page, according to MacKechnie.
MacKechnie, who holds a doctorate degree in education from the University of Minnesota, is no stranger to literature. She has written many book reviews for the university and has written much on educational research.
It was while writing for her Ph.D. that it happened.
“I just fell in love with the whole process,” she said.
Currently, she’s an adjunct professor in education at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls, Wis., and at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.
For MacKechnie, the best part of writing is when kids get engaged in her book. While reading her book to students at Eisenhower, she overheard a little girl’s comment that warmed her heart.
“It’s the best book I ever heard,” the child said.
Jelena Modec, born and raised in Belgrade, Serbia, and an art teacher at Eisenhower Elementary School for eight years, is the book’s illustrator.
MacKechnie wrote the book in a “big, old” chair of her father’s. She conjured up characters and jotted them down by hand, rather than by writing at a computer.
“Like a puzzle, I put it together and filled it in that way,” she said. “I edited and re-edited, so it really flowed to me.”
MacKechnie is busy working on her second book, this time for adolescents, although she’s staying mum about the subject.
“It’s been a really enjoyable and rewarding process,” she said about being an author.
“The Child Who Changed the World” by Laurie MacKechnie is available for $16.95, plus tax (hardcover). It’s suitable for children 4 years old and up. For more information, email Laurie at [email protected] or call 763-421-2144.
Elyse Kaner is at [email protected]