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Local children's author believes in good books

By KBell
Aug. 11, 2011 at 3:11 a.m.

Brenda O'Bannion

IF YOU GO

WHAT: "Patchwork Annie" book signing and reading

WHERE: Learning Lane, 5211 N. Navarro St.

WHEN: 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday; reading at 2 p.m.

MORE INFO: The book signing is part of a week-long grand opening of Learning Lane, a teacher supply store. Owner Karri Wilborn will give out gift certificates and tote bags most of the week, and refreshments will be served at the signing.

CONTACT: Look up Learning Lane on Facebook for weekly specials or call 361-580-3009

When Brenda O'Bannion couldn't find the right children's books to use in her classroom, she'd just write the stories herself.

Now, the former teacher is publishing her stories for the benefit of students everywhere.

"I believe in good children's books - books that teach but are also enjoyable," O'Bannion, of Victoria, said. "I think we need more books that have something to say to children that can keep them interested in reading."

The 59-year-old's latest book, "Patchwork Annie," has something to say about resourcefulness and problem solving - lessons that are mixed with a quirky character and funny situations. O'Bannion will sign books and give a reading at Learning Lane on Saturday.

Set in the 1940s, the illustrated book follows the main character, Annie, as she does innovative and surprising things to make money.

The lesson in determination is familiar to O'Bannion. In 2008, she published her first book, "Crowbaby and Dawfie," which was written 12 years earlier.

She wrote "Patchwork Annie" about eight years ago and is working on a sequel with the same characters and fun word-play.

The story also touches on the heritage of quilting, O'Bannion said, and it comes with a teacher's workbook that offers activities like vocabulary-building and crosswords for kids.

"It's a fun story and really easy for teachers to teach a lot of content areas."

O'Bannion, the director of student support at Region III Education Service Center, said her passion is helping children believe in books.

"It teaches them critical thinking skills ... It shows them that they have an imagination," she said. "It gives them an opportunity to find their voice."

Again, the experience is personal for O'Bannion.

She said it was a single English teacher who convinced her that she could someday be a published author.

"That's the power of a teacher."

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