Local author publishes children’s book

Jaci Hooper poses with her new children’s book “Gary.” The author plans a local book signing after the holidays. David Peck photo
Jaci Hooper poses with her new children’s book “Gary.” The author plans a local book signing after the holidays.
David Peck photo

A Lovell writer has spun a rhyming tale about a little boy who gets himself in trouble with stealing in the children’s book “Gary,” which has been recently published on WestBow Press.

Jaci Hooper authored “Gary” many years ago but recently had the story published as the first in a series of children’s books.

“I write a lot,” she said. “The reason I chose to do these was because I deal a lot with children in my work (as a therapist). A lot of them have problems they’ve gotten into or bad habits at such a young age. It’s a fun way to address problems in children.

“Ages 5 through 9 is the target audience, but I’ve had kids 11 and 12 say they read it. It’s all written in rhyme, and that makes it appealing, as well.”

“Gary” is beautifully illustrated with large, colorful and expressive pictures of the little boy, and it flows well in its tale of a little boy who digs himself deeper and deeper with a bad habit.

“Gary is a normal little boy who helps Mom and Dad and is polite, but one day he takes the opportunity to steal a chocolate bar, then finds it easy to take things that don’t belong to him,” Hooper said. “He gets very caught up in his own bad habits. It’s about how he gets caught in his own crime, but it’s a childlike ending, not a police and jail ending.

“It helps kids realize that they can get into something that becomes overwhelming.”

Hooper wrote “Gary” probably 30 years ago when she lived in her native England, she said. It’s the first of a series of six stories that she wrote quickly, one after another, at that time.

“I get a thought in my head and I have to write it down right then,” she said. “I’ve had to change it up for the American language.”

She plans to have five of the six stories published, with one too difficult to “translate” from British English to American English.

“It was (husband) Roy’s suggestion,” she said. “He said, ‘It’s about time you get those poems published.’ I prayed hard and found a Christian publisher (WestBow Press). I submitted it to them and they liked it.

“The illustrator did a good job changing the boy’s face from innocence at first to ‘sneaky and sly.’ They’re big, colorful pictures, so children like them. My objective is working moms and dads. It’s not a long book. It’s something they can read with a child.”

Hooper laughed when she recalled a reporter asking her if she had experience with children that she could relate to.

“I have 10 children, and by next year I’ll have numbers 50 and 51 grandchildren including (kids from) Roy’s first marriage,” she said. “I have learned that there are no perfect parents and no perfect children.”

The Hoopers own and operate Natural Health from their home southwest of Lovell on Highway 32. Jaci also works in Cody, and Roy works as a contractor.

Jaci works in massage, reflexology and biofeedback, often working with children with ADD, ADHD, autism and behavioral problems. That has given her great insight into kids like Gary.

“Gary” is available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and is available as an E-book. She can also sell the book directly, she said, noting, “Wherever I am, ‘Gary’ is also.”

She held a book-signing in Cody a few weeks ago and plans to have a signing in Lovell after Christmas.

by David Peck