Thursday, September 22, 2011

Norman's Blankie

Illustration from Norman's Blankie Copyright © Cheryl Coville 2011

Boy, oh, boy, have we got news today! Our little book got published and we held it in our hands yesterday for the very first time. We felt like proud first-time parents! And, as such, we're going to give you the full story, complete with pictures. You might want to get a cup of tea and settle in. We don't do concise.

Norman's Blankie is a children's picture book we wrote and illustrated years ago. It's the story of a baby whose mother makes him a quilt. As he grows, he takes his quilt with him everywhere he goes but at some point, that quilt starts to look a little ratty. Norman's mother knows just what to do .... and so would any other mother/quilter/seamstress. It's a heartwarming story of a quilt but it's also about a mother's love and the way we carry that love with us all through life.


Earlier this year we read that Fun With Books was looking to publish books for their fabulous program. What? you don't know about Fun With Books?? Well, we've been following them for years now. They are a bunch of volunteers....about 200 of them now....who give away books to children under 5 for the sheer, unadulterated pleasure of fostering literacy. Not one member of the organization gets paid. And any child 5 and under in the Counties of Leeds and Grenville (that's eastern Ontario, Canada) can register to have a book delivered (by hand!) to him/her every other month. It used to be monthly but like everyone else, in these trying times, Fun With Books has had to cut back.

So, where were we? Oh, yes. Yesterday, we went with Mr. Coco to meet the team that packages the books for delivery. We helped stuff about 1700 copies of our book into envelopes. Bernie Boesveld, the chairman, made us very welcome and told us that in the 17 years that Fun With Books has been operating they've delivered about a half a million books! Imagine all the children who've begun their reading lives because of this group.
Illustration from Norman's Blankie Copyright © Cheryl Coville 2011 

In the beginning, they handed out Little Golden Books that they bought but nowadays, in an effort to cut costs, they've begun to publish their own books. And that is why they've begun scouring the closets and desk drawers of local authors and illustrators. Grandma Coco thinks there are a lot more under-appreciated manuscripts out there. When Fun With Books publishes our books, we all win.

Fun With Books gets a little funding from time to time but, boy, could they ever use a little more. So, if you'd like a copy of the book or you'd just like to make a donation to a very good cause, please click on over to their site (click on fund raising in the left hand column). You can mail a cheque to them or you can click on the button and donate with Paypal. The book retails for $8.00 and it costs them another dollar or 2 depending where you live to mail it out so please be generous. (Apart from the tiny fee that charges, every penny goes to Fun With Books. Grandma Coco's not taking a dime. We just wanted you to know that.) Be sure to say you want a copy of  Norman's Blankie  and be sure to include your address.....either with your cheque or in the box on the form.

Now, for everyone who read all the way to the end, we'd like to do a giveaway!! Leave us a comment on this blog post and tell us about your first reading experience or the blankie your mommy made for you when you were a baby or just what you think about literacy and children. We'll pick a winner randomly next Wednesday, September 28, 2011 and mail out a copy of Norman's Blankie to the winner.

Thanks for reading ... and thanks for supporting this great cause.


  1. I have stories for all three categories! :)

    1) My mom read and read and read to me, and I'm incredibly grateful. Not only did it strengthen my language, grammar, and writing skills, it fostered a lifelong love of reading. I'm happy to pass that on to little Sophie - she has a book collection that rivals most libraries - and she's only six months old! She is read several books a day and has shown a genuine interest in books from an early age.

    2) My aunt made me a blankie when I was a baby. It was just a small one, with my initials and some animals. I slept with it every night until I was about 15! Mom mailed it to me for Sophie, and other than a few ratty corners, it's ready for a new generation of love.

    3) As a former Kingston Literacy employee, I know the value of promoting literacy with parents and children. We designed, wrote, and created book packs that included a book, a craft activity (with all the materials included!), and applicable worksheets. We would loan these out to hundreds of families in the area every week, in order to encourage parents to read, to interact, and to foster literacy, as well as a love of reading. Parents were genuinely grateful and I could see how beneficial it was for the children.

    Norman's Blankie is an adorable book. The families of Leeds and Grenville are so lucky! :) (sorry for the rambling. :)

  2. Wow, Cheryl - I am so excited for you! Congratulations on this accomplishment; what a wonderful contribution you are making.
    I don't have a story about a quilt my Mom made me...but the quilt that this Mom (i.e. me) made her first baby was the start of my love-affair with quilting. That baby has just turned 25 and the quilt is still in his room, having gone EVERYWHERE with him over the years. It has burn holes from sitting too close to Beaver/Cub/Scout camp fires, chew marks from a kitty now in cat-heaven, and binding worn out on some edges. When it came time for him to head to university, I made him a new one, exactly like his original and he sleeps under it every night.
    I'd love to order a copy of your book from Fun With Books. Is there any way to get a signed copy? :)

  3. I came from a home were no one sewed and I don't remember having a blankie, but books are a whole different story.
    I read a lot as a child. My library card was one of my dearest possessions. Eventually the library folks hired me as a page (people laugh when I tell them I was a page at the library) and I advanced to being the substitute storytime lady. From this I learned the valuable skill of reading upside down. This is useful for storytime and industrial espionage.
    Congratulations Cheryl, now you can add published author to your resume.

  4. YOU

    eyeing that mug too!! ; )

  5. Cheryl, this is fantastic news. Congraulations.

    I honestly can't remember being read to, though I am sure it happened since both my parents enjoy reading. Neither can I recall and homemade blankie, but I do remember having a big green, cloth bound alphabet book. It had wonderful illustrations. When I was a bit older I got upset when a visiting child tore up most of the pages in the book.

    I love buying books for my nieces and nephews even though they expect me to give them socks.

  6. Oh how great is this program! Personally, my memory is too short to remember such details as a child...and Mom had eight children, me being the I know she did not have much time to read anything. I myself am an avid reader, and she says I always was. My grand-daughter loves to read and now that she is seven, she reads her books to me instead of me reading to her! Your book looks adorable and I'd be proud to own it and read it to her!..or let her read it to me!!

  7. My mother took us to the library every summer for their summer reading program. She also bought us books through the book program at school. Before we started to school, she would let us stay in the book section of the grocery store or 5 & 10 store while she shopped. It was in the early 60's before child abduction was common. I have been reading books since I was little. We also read books to my 3 nephews when they came to my mother's house. She made all 3 of the grandsons "The Little Fisher Boy" quilt. I would love to win this book to pass on reading to my youngest nephew's step-daughter who is 3 1/2.


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