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Local author brings characters to life in books for children


September 17, 2013
"Two sweet super-silly sisters named Allie Pallie and Breenie Weenie owned a flirty birdie they named Precious Perfect Perky Pretty Poppy. He was a real rootie tootie cutie mellow yellow fellow, a small gold parakeet."

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Local author Sheryl Cesmat has published three children's books since she began writing as a way to pass time during a serious illness, the most recent of which is Poppy, a story about a parakeet once owned by her granddaughters. Photo by Kim Harris/ Valley Roadrunner
And so begins the story of Poppy, a tongue-twisting tale written by Valley Center's own Sheryl Cesmat.

"I wrote it for my grandchildren," Cesmat said. "I really had no intention of publishing it."

But her plans changed when she was encouraged to do just that by one of her three sons after he saw his children's reaction to the story.

"I told them, 'You have to read it aloud,'" Cesmat said. "They would read it out loud and they stuttered and they stammered and they just howled and laughed."

Her son, Brad, encouraged her to publish what she calls a "one-of-a-kind tongue-twisting adventure" focusing on the yellow parakeet that had once belonged to her granddaughters. Cesmat was fighting cancer when the girls, immortalized in the book as Allie Pallie and Breenie Weenie, brought the parakeet to her house to keep her company during a battle with cancer.

"They brought this bird over and put him on my nightstand," she said. "I opened the cage and he just hopped out."

Cesmat —who also wrote the book Tango's Magic Tricks and Adopted Kitty from the City — got the idea to write the book for her granddaughters after the tiny bird that helped see her through one of the roughest points in her life, passed away two years after she had beaten the cancer that threatened her own life.

"The girls were heartbroken," she said. "I had written the book about Tango, so I thought I'll write one about their little bird."

After hearing the children's reaction to the story and the encouragement from her son who was at the time in the Army and just home from Iraq, Cesmat took the book to a friend of hers who was a retired newspaper writer.

"As his wife began to read the book she laughed," Cesmat said. "I told her, "I know it is silly'. And she told me she hadn't seen anything like it."

Cesmat began doing research on her own and couldn't find another book anywhere that told a complete story while still being all tongue twisters.

"This book is one of a kind, when you read it, you'll understand why," she said. "I'm really proud of it because the only things even really close to it are the stories by Dr. Seuss."

Cesmat's sister, Marilyn Cesmat Clague, did the illustrations for both Poppy and Tango's Magic Tricks, a true story about a rabbit Cesmat had trained to dance and perform magic tricks. She said she is glad her sister is doing something she gets a lot of enjoyment out of doing.

"I think it's great she has always been able to write short stories in an interesting way," Clague said.

Clague said she had fun doing the illustrations for both Tango and Poppy.

"I had just about giving up doing anything like that after Tango," she said. "But she talked me into it. I'm glad she's able to express herself and get books published like this. I think it's really good to have a hobby like that."

Clague said in a world that revolves around technology she is happy to be creating something that can still stimulate children to use their imaginations.

"Books are something I think are really good for children and I'm hopeful that the little ones will enjoy them and have fun with them."

Cesmat says she is looking forward to getting out and meeting people who are reading her books. Her first appearance will be at a Meet the Author event to be held later this year at the Valley Center Library.

"I sincerely hope that everyone will enjoy reading my stories as much as I enjoyed writing them," she said.

All three of Cesmat's books are available for purchase online through ebay.com, amazon.com and at barnesandnoble.com or by calling Cesmat directly at (602) 621-0217.

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