O'Fallon Progress

Pair of retired teachers from O’Fallon team up to create children’s book

Author, illustrator talk about 'There's a Monkey in the Bathroom'

At 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11 at the O'Fallon Public Library, kids can learn how to write and listen to poems, as well as meet the retired teachers and creators of "There's a Monkey in the Bathroom."
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At 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11 at the O'Fallon Public Library, kids can learn how to write and listen to poems, as well as meet the retired teachers and creators of "There's a Monkey in the Bathroom."

Two retired teachers from O’Fallon will be at the O’Fallon Public Library at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11 for a book signing and activities with kids.

Catherine Roseberry and George Gasparich joined forces to produce a children’s illustrated book of poetry, “There’s a Monkey In the Bathroom.” Roseberry is the author and Gasparich is the illustrator.

Recently published through a Jacksonville, Illinois company called Truth Books, “There’s a Monkey In the Bathroom” is about 60 pages with 25 poems targeted at younger elementary children. But it’s “good for all ages,” the duo said.

“As both of us are retired teachers. It’s still in our blood, so anything we can do to up the experience and help (children) grow, whether it’s with pictures or word is a terrific thing,” Gasparich said.

While some poems are “cute and funny,” others are “whimsical,” Roseberry said.

Some titles are: “A Monkey in the Bathroom,” “The Mouse Tale,” and “Little Green Goblins Under the Bed.”

Another poem is called “The Sheriff of Calico Creek.” His name is Felix the Cat, and he’s in charge of getting rid of the mice, Roseberry said.

“I really like kids, and I really like to have fun and laugh. And this book is a collection of poems I’ve written with kids in mind,” Roseberry said.

Roseberry said her poems are an “expression of childhood.”

“I think it is so important for them to enjoy and to experience childhood,” she said.

Gasparich, who taught art for 35 years Belleville West High School, said the poems “really struck a chord” with him.

“They’re quite clever and interesting,” he said.

They inspired him to produce 20 illustrations. He also did the design and layout of the pages to send to the publisher.

“I really liked her writing, and it was not something I had to do. I did it for fun,” Gasparich said.

The illustrations are mostly in watercolor.

“These days, a lot are done on the computers and in flat color. So I wanted to do something with a little more quality, hand touches, and more interesting, so I did them in watercolor,” Gasparich said.

There are also black-and-white, so the kids can color them, Roseberry said.

“Then others have instruction for child to draw what they see in the poem, too,” Roseberry said. “It’s really turned out to be a darling book.”

Gasparich said he thinks the book could be not only a book families can experience together, but also treasure for years to come, as a sort of keepsake, containing their children’s creative expressions.

“It’s very interactive,” he said.

Roseberry started writing some of the poems about five years ago for her own entertainment, but soon changed with some prodding from her grandchildren.

“I’d write a few and put it away, and then go back to it again. And some of my grandkids got on me after reading them saying, ‘Grandma, you really need to put these in a book.’ So I did, and I’ve just had a ball with it all,” she said.

Along with the book signing Saturday, Roseberry will be conducting an instructional, interactive activity for the attending children — teaching how to write a poem.

“It’ll be a great interactive way for the kids to learn and have fun,” she said.

Books will be available at the signing or through emailing poems4fun@hotmail.com.

So far, the duo has sold more than 100 copies, which Roseberry said can be “great for birthdays and Christmas gifts.”

It costs $12.95, before tax. It’s $13.97 with the 7.85 percent O’Fallon cumulative sales tax added.

With 16 years of teaching fifth- and sixth-grade special education, and later high school students, under her belt, Roseberry said she learned a lot about kids and how they think.

“I worry somewhat about kids who have so many electronics. They get distracted from some of these sweeter memories of life, and (the book is) just a way to bring them back to this place,” Roseberry said.

At a glance

Book: “There’s a Monkey in the Bathroom,” a book of children’s poems with drawing and coloring pages for ages 5 and up.

Author: Catherine Roseberry, of O’Fallon

Illustrator: George Gasparich, of O’Fallon

Book signing: Saturday, Nov. 11 at 1 p.m. at the O’Fallon Public Library