Local author Yvonne Thompson, a self-described "Granny who likes to write stories for her granddaughter," has just released her second book about Miss Tilly, the adventurous Holstein.
Mrs. Thompson, who conducts personal readings, has delighted children from three years up to third grade with the adventures of Miss Tilly and her friends.
Author Yvonne Thompson reads the latest Miss Tilly book to students at Briarwood Academy on Tuesday.
Photo by Kristopher Wells
"The first time I read my book to a group, the children laughed and laughed. When I came out of that room, I knew that's what the Lord wanted me to do," she said.
Miss Tilly's Party, the first book, was written for and dedicated to granddaughter Ashley Stegall and was inspired by a true event involving the herd of Holsteins on the Warrenton farm.
Miss Tilly, a real cow who loves excitement, led the herd of 75 through a broken fence and into the family yard that included fruit trees, a garden and a big swimming pool.
After eating the fruit, flowers and grass, Miss Tilly was enjoying a dip in the pool when Mrs. Thompson was alerted by their Beagle in the early morning hours.
"She was having a great time," Mrs. Thompson remembered, and after the incident she wrote the story for her granddaughter. Mrs. Thompson used some creative license, and the star of her books wears a straw hat with a big sunflower, and has two good friends who try to keep her out of trouble.
The second book, Miss Tilly's Marching Band, was also inspired by a true event -- when the herd escaped onto the road through a broken fence, the clippity-clop of their hooves on the pavement sounded like a drum beat, Mrs. Thompson said.
All the ideas for her upcoming books are inspired by real life events, and Mrs. Thompson has plans for books about a family of armadillos, a friendly bunny, and a Christmas story.
"Whenever you sit quietly and watch an animal, there's a story there."
While working on her books, Mrs. Thompson consults with friends and teachers, who give opinions on the vocabulary.
They have been supportive, and teachers report children enjoy learning new words that many have not heard before like silage (feed for cows).
"After I read to them, the children have a lot of questions about the farm," Mrs. Thompson said.
She has read to children at the Warren County Library, Briarwood Academy, the Muscadine Vine, the Three Gables Personal Care Home where children joined elderly residents, and at the Mandarin Christian School in Jacksonville, Fla. All the children from both urban and rural settings seem to love hearing about farm animals.
Mrs. Thompson is always willing to hold discussions after reading, and following a visit to her granddaughter's class in Jacksonville, she was pleased when several children who had farming relatives shared some farm stories of their own.
"We enjoyed talking about life on a farm," she said.
The children benefit from the simple phrasing of the text, and the uncluttered illustrations of the black and white Holsteins, said John Hill, vice president of marketing for American International Printing of Martinez which published the books.
"The illustrations were designed to give a visual, but without a tremendous amount of detail. This helps children use their imagination," he said.
Mr. Hill believes the books will do well, and credits Mrs. Thompson's enthusiasm and her personal readings for part of the success.
"She is excited about her books, and the response she's gotten. She has several more books planned."
For more information, log onto the Web site www.MissTilly.com or call: 1-800-765-4663 (33) or 706-465-2760.
Locally, the books are available at Robin's Nest on Main Street in Warrenton, Muscadine Vine, Weather Vane Antiques, Richards' Flowers & Gifts and Aunt Tique & Uncle Junk's in Thomson.