“As a child”, Lois Szymanski says, “Misty of Chincoteague was my favorite book. I read it again and again. I loved horses, and when I read about Misty, I became Maureen Beebe. I was no longer plain ‘ol Lois… a girl with stick straight brown hair and a space between my front teeth. I was Maureen Beebe, living on a wild island, riding the magical Phantom, and chasing after a wisp of a pony named Misty!” Szymanski writes horse books, because it is always best to write about the things you know and love. Many of her horse stories are true tales from her own life. In the 1990s, Szymanski teamed up with her high school friend and fellow author, Shelley Sykes to create a new series called “The Gettysburg Ghost Gang.” The series, centers around a group of friends living on a Gettysburg, Pennsylvania campground. While planting a garden, they dig up more than they had planned for! The ghost friend they meet is a character from the past, a Civil War cavalryman.
With her school presentations, Szymanski aims to inspire children to write down their own stories. She says to start out writing about the things you know and love, and to consider writing with a friend!
Shelley Sykes, Lois Symanski
Maryland authors Shelley Sykes and Lois Szymanski tell of another secret world in Ghost Hunter, the fourth in their riveting Gettysburg Ghost Gang series. Philip, Chucky and Zach are determined to save their friend Jared Scott from that spooky Byron Skelly. Skelly’s job is to zap ghosts into nothing–and Jared just happens to be a ghost, the friendly spirit of a soldier killed on the Gettysburg battlefield. The authors leaven the chills with humor as the three boys plan various ways to confound Skelly–including a trip to Ghost Ring Hill where the grim ghost hunter must confront a battalion of angry Civil War spirits. 2003, White Mane, $5.95. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum (Children’s Literature).
A Perfect Pony
Niki is very excited because she has worked hard and earned enough money to buy her very own horse. As she looks around the auction barn, she sees the most beautiful white pony she feels would be perfect for her.But when the time comes to actually buy the horses, she finds herself bidding against the meat company on a black horse that looks very old and starved. As she takes her new pony home, she wonders over and over why she let the other pony go and why it had to be sold to Billy, the kid who always teased her at school. Fortunately, when she gets her pony home and gives him some love and care, it turns out that he is really quite young and beautiful. She is able to begin riding him within a few weeks. Then she runs into Billy, whose farm is close to hers, and sees that he is not treating the white pony with love. As Niki struggles with whether or not to befriend the boy who teases her at school, she is reminded that people are a product of their circumstances. In the end, Niki is able to help both Billy and his father see that love is a better tool than force when training horses (and people). This is a great book for horse and animal lovers. It also deals with teasing and befriending those who are less than friendly. It is part of the “Charming Ponies” series and comes with a collectible pony charm. 2005, Harper Festival/HarperCollins Publishers, $4.99. Ages 7 to 10. Reviewer: Elizabeth Fresse (Children’s Literature).
A Pony Promise
Tiffany’s whole world has just been shaken: her older brother angrily told her that she was not his real sister because she was adopted. Unsure of the people she has always held close, she runs to the pony farm to see her favorite horse, Windy. She is confronted by Paul, the owner of the farm, and ends up being able to help out with the farm work. As Tiffany searches for her identity and talks with her mother about being adopted, Windy and Stormy prepare to give birth. When Stormy refuses to accept her baby, Tiffany works with Paul and her new friend, Mandy, to care for the baby. When Windy gives birth, she accepts not only her baby, but Stormy’s as well. Tiffany is struck with the thought that Windy just adopted the baby horse, and that being adopted is not so bad after all. This was a great book for horse lovers, especially those interested in Chincoteague Island, where the story takes place. It is also a great book about families and belonging, and about finding one’s own identity. It is part of the “Charming Ponies” series and comes with a collectible pony charm. 2005, Harper Festival/HarperCollins Publishers, $4.99. Ages 7 to 10. Reviewer: Elizabeth Fresse (Children’s Literature).
Program 1 – You Can Write, Too
This talk focuses on encouraging children to write their own stories, including:
- Why Writers Write
- How to Develop a Writer’s Muscle
- Starting an Ideas Folder
- Finding Story Ideas
- Rewriting & editing
Program 2 – History in Fiction
Why write about history?
- Researching what you care about.
- How to write with a co-author/ Write with a friend!
- Researching fun.
- Civil war mysteries Szymanski & Sykes uncovered when writing The Gettysburg Ghost Gang, and little known Civil War facts.
- Real resources for kids to become published authors!
Program 3– Wetlands in Fiction
Learning about the Assateague Island Wetland region
- What did Szymanski find during her wetlands research?
- What can you find on the beach and by the bay?
- Finding your own regional stories.
- Making the story work – Adding fiction to true tales.
- Assateague Island Wetlands- how they are important to Szymanski’s pony tales.
Fees: Lois’ presentations start at $500 plus travel expenses. During a full day, Lois will make up to 5 presentations. Lois’ presentations are appropriate for grades 2 to 6. A typical talk is 45 minutes in length, followed by a question and answer session. She will address small groups in a classroom or media center and larger groups with a Power Point and the use of a microphone.
To learn more about Lois and her publications please visit www.loisszymanski.com.