Author visits alma mater, urges children to follow their dreams

As a little girl, Angela Halgrimson loved to write poems. As she got older she wrote stories. And when she was a “big girl” in third grade at McKinley Elementary School, she began to keep her collection of stories and poems tucked into a folder.

Children’s book author Angela Halgrimson visited her alma mater, McKinley Elementary School, and brought along a T-shirt she proudly wore as a McKinley kindergartner. Photos by Sue Austreng

Children’s book author Angela Halgrimson visited her alma mater, McKinley Elementary School, and brought along a T-shirt she proudly wore as a McKinley kindergartner. Photos by Sue Austreng

“I always dreamed of being an author, and that folder was my first book,” Halgrimson said, smiling.

Well, now the McKinley alumna really is a published author, having just released her children’s book, “Lenny the Crow,” the story of a polite little bird whose patience and courtesy is tested when he realizes the rude farmer he meets is actually a scarecrow.

Halgrimson returned to her alma mater Feb. 19, an honored guest during McKinley’s recognition of I Love to Read Month.

Halgrimson said she “tucked a little bit of Ham Lake into the book because I grew up in Ham Lake.”

“I grew up with all the farm fields, dirt roads, lots of scarecrows – and I still live here. So you’ll find some of Ham Lake in this book,” the author said.

The author, whose son Jacob is a fifth-grader at McKinley, read her book to students, then answered youngsters’ questions.

Students eagerly listened as Halgrimson told the children how she came up with the idea, how many times she had to re-write the story, how she found someone to draw the pictures, how long she waited to have her book published, why she likes to write stories and how they can write stories.

But perhaps bigger than her desire to make her readers smile is Halgrimson’s desire to let children know there are rewards for following their dreams.

“I’ve always wanted to be a writer and the idea for this story came to me in a dream. Suddenly I knew I had to write this story,” she said, and then told students to keep a piece of paper and a pencil by their bed so they could write down their dreams.

“It might become a book someday, too,” she said.

Halgrimson’s determination to follow her dream is an especially powerful lesson, because she followed that dream while recovering from a traumatic brain injury.

“Because of my brain injury I couldn’t go back to work at my other job (as a hair stylist). Well, I always wanted to be an author and when I had this dream I just knew this was what I had to do,” she said.

Halgrimson’s dream continues because since “Lenny the Crow” came out four months ago (published by Beaver’s Pond Press, October 2013) 5,000 more copies have been printed and will be for sale soon. Not only that, the children’s book author has written four more manuscripts and two novels she hopes to publish soon.

“Lenny the Crow” is perched on bookshelves at Barnes and Noble, but if the store is sold out, copies are available at BeaversPondBooks.com, or by calling 1-800-901-3480.

Sue Austreng is at sue.austreng@ecm-inc.com

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