Gracie is a glass tree frog created by Hernando County authors Kathleen Hill and Thomas Sandusky. She was introduced to Eastside Elementary School children last week to help them celebrate Literacy Week. The authors went to the school to read their book, Gracie the Glass Tree Frog, and give the children a brief lesson about life in a South American rain forest.
Sandusky is a retired environmental science teacher who has studied rain forests. Hill is his Spring Hill neighbor who enjoys rhyming. Sandusky came up with the story, and Hill put it to rhyme. Sandusky's cousin Gretchen Johnson illustrated it.
The children gathered in the media center for three presentations, one each to second grade, first grade and kindergarten. They met Gracie through a frog puppet operated by Sandusky. Gracie accused him of moving his lips when she talked. That set the children to giggling.
Hill read the story while reading coach Gwynne Carpenter projected the book's illustrations on a screen. The story centers on Gracie, who is constantly worried about Bobby, the snake.
She laments to her friend, a boy named J.J., and how she wished she could be a poison dart frog or more camouflaged to look like eggs. She realizes, though, that her talent for sitting perfectly still works very well for her and in the end is quite happy with herself.
Sandusky ended the presentations with photos of real rain forest animals and took questions from the children. One child wanted to know why the snake wanted to eat the frog. "He's hungry," Sandusky said.
He and Hill intend to continue their writing with a series of Stories from the Rainforest. They plan on including a young adult thriller.
Carpenter encouraged reading throughout the week and provided teachers and parents with suggestions.
Paulette Lash Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]