Children’s Author Visits Fairview

Kathy Clayton

The Ashland Beacon


   Books offer a gateway to new worlds, new ideas, entertainment, comfort – you name it. Students at Fairview Elementary were given a glimpse into how stories come to life when Debbie Dadey, children’s book author, spent the day at the school on Friday.

   Dadey, author of the series Adventures of the Bailey School Kids and Mermaid Tales and other books and series, met with children in the school library, a couple of grades at a time, engaging them in dialogue about how she comes up with an idea for a book, the writing process, and how books are published.

   Children sat transfixed, as she mentioned a plotline, then asked for ideas on what might come next, or what could be added to the story. “How can you make a story more exciting? Reality is not always exciting, so you can think of ideas to make the book interesting.”

   The author explained that she does a lot of research before writing so she can provide realistic details, but it is the addition of unlikely scenarios that make the reader keep turning the pages. “You need to add enough details to make it seem real, without sounding like non-fiction,” she explained.

   Dadey said that one summer, she told her son that he should help her writing a book. “He didn’t really want to, but we brainstormed to come up with ideas – what should the book be about? He said boys, and I said only boys? He said and girls. So I asked him if they should be brother and sister, best friends, or something else. He said they don’t like each other. So I asked him why, and he said they play tricks on each other.” She said creating these types of questions and scenarios is how an idea becomes a book.

   She showed the children a picture of a shark on her screen and said that while researching a book on sharks, she learned things she was previously unaware of. “We need sharks! I learned that when I researched this book. Without sharks, other fish would become weak and diseased.”

   She told the students that while researching her latest book about narwhals, she found contradicting information. “So, I contacted the premier authority on narwhals to get an explanation.” One child asked if narwhals are endangered. “Yes,” Dadey said, “do you know why?” One student sitting partially under a table answered climate change. “That’s right,” Dadey said. She showed them a picture of a leatherback turtle and told them that plastic is hurting sea life, urging the children to reuse and recycle, and use cloth bags when shopping.

   Dadey said that she feels if someone in her book is going to do something, she should experience it herself, which led her to go skydiving one time. “That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever done – jump out of a plane!” She also said she got in a shark tank with sharks.

   “This was an absolute gift,” said Fairview Elementary Principal Meaux Mullins. “I’ve explained to them how special this is, so they should remember this. Most schools don’t get a chance to have an author talk to them and autograph books.” A parent at the school, Ashley Carter, contacted the author and asked her to come. Carter provided books for each child that Dadey autographed for them.

   The author, who is from the Henderson, KY, area and now lives near Dollywood in Tennessee, has sold over 43 million books and has written 12 series as well as individual books. She graduated from Western Kentucky University and taught at Sayre School and Tates Creek Elementary in Lexington.

   One child asked her about the hardest part of writing a book. “It’s taking a rough draft and trying to make it better. I have a checklist that I use.” She also told the children that she has videos on the writing process on her website and Facebook page. Dadey also mentioned that even though she has sold many books, she had written about 168 that were never published, including a book about soccer that she wrote with her daughter.