One November afternoon in 2008, Debbie Reece, a teacher’s aide at a preschool in Van Alstyne, finally got all of her 4- and 5-year-olds to lie down for their afternoon naps. But instead of relaxing or catching up on some work, Reece did something she had never done before: She wrote a book.
In about an hour, Reece penned The Christmas Pumpkin, a story about a boy’s crazy idea of using an overlooked green pumpkin as a Christmas decoration.
Reece, a 43-year-old Grayson-Collin Electric Cooperative (GCEC) member, said the inspiration came from her students and from Matthew, her 8-year-old son. Turns out many of her students had been pestering her to use pumpkins for their classroom’s Christmas decorations, an idea Reece naturally thought was silly. Pumpkins for Christmas? But Reece also remembered how Matthew always chose a green pumpkin when they went to a pumpkin patch in nearby Celina before Halloween (a Reece family tradition), and soon enough his green pumpkin would ripen and turn orange before Halloween.
So during her students’ afternoon quiet time, Reece simply put on paper the story rattling around in her head.
But writing a story is one thing. Getting it published can present more obstacles than the plot of a Harry Potter book. Reece’s husband, Eddy, put her in touch with another GCEC member, Van Alstyne artist Ron Head. He agreed to illustrate the book and suggested that Reece bypass the difficult chore of landing a book publishing company and instead publish it and sell it on her own. Reece agreed, contracted with Ussery Printing of Irving and created her own company, BeeBop Books. She has gone on to sell more than 2,400 copies of her 26–page book online and through local bookstores.
These days, Reece keeps busy giving public readings at schools, libraries and other educational institutions. “You’re never too old to learn something new,” Reece says. “Just like those students who inspired me, you never know what you might say or do that could have an impact on those around you and change their lives forever.”
You can learn more about Reece and purchase her book at www.BeeBopBooks.com.
Donnie Hogan recently served as an intern for Texas Co-op Power.