- Associated Press - Sunday, June 19, 2016

TRUMANN, Ark. (AP) - A Trumann woman has combined her love of teaching and dogs to make a children’s book series inspired by her personal experiences.

Author Amanda Hopkins is getting set to release her third juvenile fiction book titled “Daisy Dog Goes to School.”

“Hopkins touches the hearts of dog lovers and kids alike,” publicist Michelle Whitman said. “This charming book is set for nationwide release this week.”

The Jonesboro Sun (https://bit.ly/1YrPyQO ) reports that Hopkins teaches kindergarten at Cedar Park Elementary but during her free time she writes fictional stories about her rescue dog named Daisy.

“I always told stories to my kindergarten kids, and my mother was always telling me to write my stories down,” Hopkins said. “I would always tell her that nobody will want to hear my stories.”

Vivian Harpole, mother of Hopkins, said she always knew her daughter had the talent.

“She always had a way with words,” Harpole said. “She could always write down exactly the right word to explain what you are thinking.”

About three years ago something changed when a special dog named Daisy came into their lives.

“About three years ago we rescued Daisy,” Hopkins said. “A teacher friend found Daisy abandoned or lost and called us. When we showed up Daisy wiggled her little ears at us, and that was that. She quickly became the center of our world.”

Hopkin’s students’ enthusiastic response to Daisy stories inspired her to try something new.

“The kids loved hearing stories about Daisy,” Hopkins said. “Finally I decided I would write the story of how we adopted Daisy. The lesson of the story was that we don’t have to look alike or act alike to be family. My family loved it, and my mother told me to send it in.”

Hopkins said she finally decided to listen to her mother and Googled children’s publications.

“It’s real easy to submit a book nowadays,” Hopkins said. “I sent my book to several publications, and Tate Publishing picked it up. I was totally surprised. I didn’t think my little book would matter to anyone.”

Hopkins didn’t stop there. The next year she wrote her second book about Daisy learning not to judge people based on appearance.

“I like to put lessons in each of my stories,” Hopkins said. “We have a neighbor that has wild rabbit that raises a family in their backyard, and I remember Daisy staring at those rabbits. I then made up a story about how Daisy wanted to keep the rabbit out her yard, but it turns out they have a lot in common.”

Hopkins said all of her stories come from real life events.

“Like I tell my kids write what you know,” Hopkins said.

In her most recent book Daisy learns what happens at school. She makes five new friends who teach her what happens at school.

“I took five students that I recently taught and put them in the book,” Hopkins said. “They are the ones that will encounter Daisy and teach her what school is all about.”

Hopkins said she doesn’t plan on slowing down now.

“I have some ideas floating around for the next one,” Hopkins said. “I usually write during the summer break and by the next summer break the book is released.”

Hopkins said she doesn’t have any large scale plans for the future just yet.

“We are learning as we go,” Hopkins said. “I just want to keep going and keep making stories. If it takes off that would be great, if it doesn’t that is OK, too.”

Harpole said she isn’t expecting her daughter to be heading to New York anytime soon.

“Her heart is with her kids,” Harpole said. “She is doing what she loves to do. I would like to see it go somewhere when she retires from teaching, but for now she is happy.”

People can buy Hopkin’s most recent book at bookstores, barnesandnoble.com, amazon.com or www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore.


Information from: The Jonesboro Sun, https://www.jonesborosun.com

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