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Books for children cushion a good life

Some people work for a living. Then there's Daryl May.

Oh, he used to work years ago, I assume, when he was a Pinellas County sheriff's deputy. But then he spent about 20 years in lounges strumming his guitar and singing homespun ballads.

Now he writes children's books and goes to autograph-signing events.

Tough life. For example, he has been invited to Chimney Rock Park in western North Carolina on Oct. 24-25 to autograph his book during the park's first Blue Ridge Mountain Festival of Foliage.

The book, Rachael's Splendifilous Adventure, was written by Daryl and illustrated by well-known Clearwater artist and hot-air balloonist Roger Bansemer.

If you're up at Chimney Rock for the glorious turning-of-the-leaves, just take the park's elevator 26 stories up through a shaft in the mountain to its Sky Lounge. There you will find Daryl autographing his book.

"Chimney Rock," the Clearwater flatlander said, "is a 500-million-year-old rock on the edge of a mountain.

"Looking 1,200 feet down you can see Lake Lure, and on a clear day you can see Kings Mountain 75 miles to the east."

Daryl was in the area, which is about 45 minutes southeast of Asheville, in June visiting an old buddy, retired Belleair Beach police Sgt. Jerry Slider, and his wife, Carroll. They own a bed-and-breakfast inn in Lake Lure.

If you have seen the new movie, The Last of the Mohicans, you might know that it was filmed in the 1,000-acre park.

Rachael's Splendifilous Adventure is about a little girl, her favorite teddy bear and a boisterous bird who travel by hot-air balloon, naturally, to Moscow.

There they visit the Kremlin and the Moscow circus and discover how warm-hearted the Russian people are.

Clearwater Mayor Rita Garvey and Nicholas and Jana Goncharoff of Belleair took copies of the book with them this summer when they visited Russia, and said it was well-received. Daryl and Roger now have a dream of publishing the book in Russia.

Meanwhile, the book is to be the cover story in the November issue of Florida Living magazine. Editor John Paul Jones Jr. has promised to mention it favorably in his "In Closing" article, Daryl said.

If you can't find copies of the book in local bookstores, call 447-2725.

Daryl is now at work _ at least he calls it that _ on an illustrated children's book about tree houses titled Around the World in 80 Trees.

"So far," he said, "I've compiled information and pictures of tree houses from Pasco County, Safety Harbor, Largo, Hawaii and a five-story tree house in Iowa featured on a national TV morning show."

Daryl said his mother in Illinois heard about the Iowa tree house while watching CBS' This Morning show and thought she remembered that its owner was a junior high school principal in Marshalltown, Iowa.

Daryl addressed his inquiry simply to "Tree House Builder in Marshalltown, Iowa" and got a nice note from Mick Jurgensen with a package of information about his 3,000-square-foot tree house.