Lunching with Leprechauns and Other Important Questions

Lunching with Leprechauns and Other Important Questions

by Susan Neuhalfen

Blanton Elementary 2nd grader Isabella Walker already has her first title: illustrator. That’s because Isabella and her grandmother, Linda Romblom, published a book together this year entitled The Adventures of Princess Isabella the Leprechaun and consequently had their first book signing at Barnes and Noble in Highland Village.

“I’ve always made up stories with my grandchildren and I would weave them each into the stories,” said Linda. “Isabella recently learned to read so I wrote down the story and left room on each page for her to draw a picture of what the words said.”

When Isabella’s baby brother, Eli, was born, Linda, a retired teacher, came to visit her son, Jeff, and his wife, Elizabeth, in Lantana a little more often from her home state of Wisconsin. Over a series of visits their book evolved from a simple fun activity between grandmother and granddaughter to a published book.

When Isabella’s cousins came for an overnight visit the bedtime story, much to their delight, included them. It sparked the idea that kids over a broad age range loved being in the story.

“I realized that we needed to make the book a way for other kids to star in it, too,” said Linda. “So we added a section that involves interaction with children and adults working together to create their own story.”

What starts with playful puppies and a horseback ride in the country turns into an adventure for Princess Isabella. She finds a Leprechaun in the forest and is invited to lunch.

The book presents questions for discussion between the adult and child. Then comes the fun part: the readers have an opportunity to tell their own story that is similar to the original story, but with their own character names and fun storyline. The kids are also asked to draw pictures to go with their story just as Isabella did.

“When I taught child development, we never asked children to color a picture that was already structured and stay in the lines,” said Linda. “They needed to learn to express themselves and draw without boundaries.”

Though Isabella drew freehand, she occasionally would look up pictures on her iPad for guidance. Later in the book, she encouraged Grammie Linda to do some drawing.  It was all about doing it together. She also acted as an editor, naming people and pets in the story and making sure her Grammie didn’t use words that were too big for her contemporaries. For example, she told her to use the word “smell” instead of the word “fragrance”.

In addition to the book signing, Blanton Elementary recently invited Linda to speak, where she and Isabella gifted their book to the Blanton Library. The school had just finished a unit of study on authors. 

According to Linda, the purpose of the book is two-fold: It’s a great activity book for adults and kids to spend quality time together; and it acts as a tool to create teachable moments for children.

“It’s hard to get kids away from electronics,” said Linda. “With summer around the corner, other parents and grandparents would adore having this tool to invest quality time in a child
they love.”

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