By Leigh Ann Rutledge
Lily Marteney knows being a “farm kid” has its advantages.
She is featured in a children’s picture book and is hosting a book release event Sept. 20 at Minerva Public Library. She will also be part of a school reading event in the planning stages at Community Field.
Summer of 2015, Lily and her family learned DK, a division of Penguin Random House, was looking for a “farm kid” ages 7-12 for a picture book. The book, “Children Just Like Me,” is an updated version celebrating the 20th anniversary of the original book that made its way onto bookshelves in over 800,000 classrooms, libraries and homes in the US alone.
Tara, Lily’s mother, took pictures of Lily doing farm chores and sitting on her dad’s tractor. She was chosen due to living on a farm and the location of the farm. The family learned Lily had been chosen about a month later and soon after received a packet with “pages of questions.”
“There were all kinds of questions from what do you eat for breakfast to what do you think about world peace,” said Tara. “The publishers chose the pictures they would take by the answers.”
Lily and her family were responsible for having outfits for the various pictures they would take.
“They sent a photographer, James, who is from England to our home and he spent the day with us,” Tara explained. “He took most of the pictures inside our house but also with the hay bales and barn.”
James is an accomplished photographer who has traveled the world and taken photos for National Geographic. In the book, it notes he took photos in Canada, the US, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, England, France, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Australia and New Zealand.
The 80-page book is divided into six sections: North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Southeast Asia and Australasia. Each section features kids from various parts of the continents with details about their lives, such as their family, favorite foods and other interesting tidbits.
An opening page tells how the children are from all around the world but have similar concerns, such as access to education and health care, the environment, poverty and animal welfare.
Lily, is shown dressed in a flannel shirt, blue jeans and her cowboy boots, holding her cat, Kitty Soft Paws, stating, “People should be nicer to animals and not treat them badly.”
“I had no idea I was going to be in a book,” Lily said. “But it is really cool.”
She said her brother and sister were very excited too.
During the book event at Minerva Public Library, Lily will host a trivia game with prizes provided by DK. Those attending will have an opportunity to fill out a “Just Like Me” paper and practice saying “hello” in the different languages.
Another event she plans to participate in is Carrollton Schools “Reading Under the Lights” event at Community Field on SR 332 Sept. 29 beginning at 6:30 p.m. From 6:30 to 7 p.m., there will be stations including a bookmark making station and reading zoo. Lily will have a station for people to preview “Children Just Like Me” and complete a Just Like Me page of their own. At 7 p.m., Marcia Schaffer, children’s librarian at Carroll County District Library, will read a story. Families will be encouraged to sit on the field under the lights and read with each other from 7:10-7:30 p.m. Along with the stations and reading time, there will be raffle baskets, a concession stand, and Cat in the Hat will arrive. The schedule of events was not finalized at press time.
Lily held a book signing at Books-A-Million in Canton Sept. 10. The store had 60 books available for purchase and at the end of the event, 55 books had been sold and two more sold Saturday evening. “Books-A-Million said this was their most successful book signing ever,” Tara stated. “Lily really enjoyed herself. We are thankful to come from such a supportive community like Carrollton.”
“It’s been fun to read the book,” Lily and Tara agree. “ It’s fun to see and compare the different nationalities and cultures.”
Sophie Mitchell, DK Children’s Publishing director noted the brand-new edition of “Children Just Like Me” [is] “A celebration of children and childhood around the world. Since the first edition was published in 1995 the world has changed a lot…It felt like the right time to make a new edition which follows the children of today.”
She continued, saying the children featured come from a variety of countries and a range of different backgrounds and appear to live very different lives, whether dressing in different clothes or eating different foods. However, they play the same games, worry about the same things and find the same things funny.
“The biggest realization we had making this book was that wherever they are in the world and whatever year it is, every child is unique and capable of great things,” Mitchell wrote. “This book aims to celebrate them.”
The new version of “Children Just Like Me” is available on Amazon, Books-A-Million and www.dk.com.
Lily is a third grade student in Holly Dodds class in Carrollton Elementary School. She lives in Union Twp. with her parents, Jason and Tara, and her brother, Ridge, 3, and sister, Anna, 2.