You are on page 1of 4

T  

“ I n a M i s s i s s i pp i w i n t e r, we h a v e t o
make our own snow!”
Traditional songs about jingle
bells on one-horse open sleighs
may be fun to sing but most
children have trouble relating
to the idea of riding on snow-
packed roads in a horse-drawn
sleigh.
Nowhere is that more true
director, a pre-school teacher, a
teacher at USM and an early
childhood education consultant.
And, throughout most of
those years she has written chil-
dren’s stories, usually tucked
away in a desk drawer when
completed.
Mississippi when they see
things like sleds and mittens on
a standardized test, many of
those children don’t even know
what they are because they
have never been exposed to
them. She talked about every
time that we share winter with
than in Mississippi. Recently, and to the delight children, we typically do it in a
Pick up any children’s story- of children, parents and teach- way that … we talk about
book, video or CD containing ers, she has begun publishing snow, sleds, skis and things like
stories of winter and the images some of these tales. that. Many children don’t ever
created are of snowmen, sleds, Young’s second book, In a have those experiences. Winter
ice skates, icicles and sparkling Mississippi Winter, first hit here is not what you see in
white landscapes on a winter store shelves in mid-October story books.
morning. and is already receiving acclaim That really stuck with me. In


Mississippi children rarely, if across the state. 20 years of teachers, as I have
ever, see such things. South Mississippi Scene picked up children’s books, I
The idea of teaching young Magazine had an opportunity have never found one that
children about winter using to visit with Young about this showed our experience.
images and concepts outside latest book. Here is some of Q. When did you get the idea
their own experiences has both- what she had to say. for the story and how did that
ered early childhood educator Q. Where did the idea for come about?


Kathy Chase Young for years. this book come from? Probably it was about five or
Young was born in When I was in college at six years ago when my daugh-
Greenville and raised in USM, I had a professor by the ter was in first grade. The idea
Tupelo. Over 20 years ago she name of Lynell Rogers. She was had just been floating around in
moved to Hattiesburg as a on faculty in the child develop- my head. I was doing a story
University of Southern ment department for many, time at my daughter’s class. She
Mississippi student. She met many years. And, there was one found out that I had some sto-
her husband and the couple has class in which we were examin- ries that I had written and she
remained in Hattiesburg ever ing instruction and childhood asked me to bring them and
since, raising two children. development. She taught that it share. I brought a couple of
Over the years Young has was important that we teach in them in and the children were
worked in a number of jobs in a way that was relevant to a so receptive. That is when I
the early childhood education child’s body of knowledge. For decided to write “In a
field. She has been a child care example, the children in Mississippi Winter.”

STORY BY ROYCE ARMSTRONG


PHOTOS COURTESY TISHOMINGO TREE PRESS

south mississippi scene • 81


 Q. Can you tell us just a little about the story?
The story is set in a classroom. You cannot tell the age
of the children, but it is a younger classroom, like
Kindergarten or preschool. It is told from a very preco-
cious child’s point of view. As the teacher, Miss Bonnie
begins talking about winter, complete with pictures of

snowmen, ice skates and sleds, the children are all very


confused. The teacher is exasperated in trying to figure
out why, all of a sudden, that she has lost the attention of
the children.


The precocious child keeps saying, “Well, it looks like
fun, but it doesn’t look like winter where I live.”
Miss Bonnie realizes that she has made a mistake and
she shifts gears and the next day she talks about a
Kathy Chase Young holds a master’s Mississippi winter. In a Mississippi winter we have to
degree in Child Development from the make our own snow and the class cuts out paper
University of Southern Mississippi and snowflakes. They use craft sticks to write their names in
has been an early childhood profes- grits because some people have very powdery snow. She
sional in varioius capacities for two takes them through all of these different activities to help
decades. them think of ways that we can have fun without the
Kathy has a deep appreciation of same type of weather that other areas of the country
children’s literature. Her desire is to have. She takes them on a winter time walk where they


share her own stories with children of can see some of the Mississippi wildlife.
all ages. The gist of the story is going through a classroom
Her first book, The Gift, was pub- learning experience. The illustrations are just wonderful.
lished in 2005 (Tishomingo Tree Press). Kelly Stanford did a beautiful job with all of the illustra-
She is proud to call Mississippi her tions.


home, even in the winter. Q. Who is this book written for?
I didn’t have in mind writing it for anyone in particu-


lar. It reads best for children age’s five to nine. It has
been read to children as young as four years and they are
quite attentive, but it is a little bit long (32 pages) for
younger children.
Q. What has been the reaction to the story so far?
I am really pleased. Of course, with me being an edu-
cator, I felt like that it could be a valuable tool for educa-
tors. But, I am hearing about teachers that are excited
about it and they are buying it to give to their classrooms
because they have often not had the story books that I
missed as well. I am hearing lots of good reaction from
parents and people from Mississippi. I was in Tupelo last
week and people were telling me: ‘Oh isn’t that cute.
Isn’t that the truth? We don’t have the same kind of win-

82 • south mississippi scene




ter that everybody else does.’
It seems to be getting a lot of attention. We have not
had too much trouble selling it to the stores because as
soon as they hear of the concept. It is being very well
received across retail and education.
There are activities throughout the book that children
can do at home. There are also activities in the back. The


book is more than a story. I really hope that children
will really begin looking for the holly bushes, and look-
ing at a winter sunset and which trees are bare and
things like that.
Q. Why was it important for you to tell this story?
I love my state. I love being from here. I think that it
is important for us to celebrate what makes us unique. I
wrote it because I want children to feel the same way Kelly Arcarese Stanford is a freelance
that I do. illustrator originally from Hattiesburg,
Q. What is your favorite part of the book? Mississippi, who has been drawing as
On the very last page, the precocious child has been long as she can remember. Her illus-
picked up by its Mom, and Mom asks: “What did you trative career has included such work
do in school today?” The child replies, “Oh, nothing,” as murals, courtoom displays, and her
while drawing snowflakes on the window. favorite, children’s books.
As I wrote the story, I had a child in my head and I Her love of animals is evident in her
was hearing his voice, but when I sent the manuscript art and her home. She and her family
out to my friends and colleagues, some said that the lit- reside in Oak Grove with two cats, sev-
tle girl was so cute and others said that the little boy eral dogs, a turtle and a pampered
was so cute. I went to great lengths to hide the child’s Arabian horse.
identity so that the book is not gender specific. If your Kelly holds a bachelor’s degree in art


daughter or your son picks it up, either one of them can from the University of Southern
feel like they are the one telling the story. Mississippi. This is her second pub-
Q. Where can I find “In a Mississippi Winter”? lished children’s book.
It is all over Mississippi. It is in almost every inde-
pendent book store in Mississippi as well as Barnes &
Noble, Books a Million and quite a few small town gift
shops and drug stores. There is also a listing of where it
is available on the website, www.tishomingotree.com.
Q. Congratulations with this story. What is your


next book?
We keep going around about that. I want to publish a
story that I have written about a little girl that doesn’t
want to turn five because she likes being four. It is
called “Four Forever.” But, my husband is very interest-
ed in us doing the very first story that I wrote about a
little boy with attention deficiency disorder. I don’t
know. There are several possibilities.

south mississippi scene • 83