For local author, 'Peas' a pet project to share a life lesson

Local author shares her book with preschoolers

(photo by Phil Grout, )
May 05, 2012|By Katie V. Jones

Halfway through the story about his life, Zeus rolled over to have his belly rubbed. He than sat patiently with his tongue lolling out of his mouth.

The 8-year-old, 100-pound yellow English/American Labrador knew what was coming at the end of "My Dog Eats Peas" ... and it wasn't peas.

It was a big dog bone.

"We give him big dog bones because he is so big," said Tonya Neumeister, Zeus' owner and author of the children's book, "My Dog Eats Peas." And while Zeus does like peas, as the story explains, peas are not exactly the best food for dogs.

"I teach life lessons. I teach values at an early age," said Neumeister said of her book — the story of a little boy, his dog and a lesson about being responsible.

For the children in attendance at Neumeister's reading on Wednesday, May 2, at Y Journeys Chipmunks Early Childhood Development Center, in Finksburg, both the book and its canine star were a treat.

"I liked it," said Naomi Wagner, 3, of the reading. Her mother, Annie Wagner, was all smiles, too.

"She thinks she might like peas now that the doggy ate them," Wagner said.

Published last spring by Mirror Publishing, "My Dog Eats Peas" is Neumeister's first commercial book, though she has written others and is currently writing two more, including another about Zeus' character, Copper.

A Westminster resident and the mother of two, Neumeister also has a full-time job. Writing, she says, is a "hobby."

"I do it in my spare time," she said. "I had so much fun writing [My Dog Eat Peas]."

With help from a co-worker, Neumeister found a publisher and was able to work with an illustrator to create the characters the way she pictured them.

"I've always loved to read," Neumeister said. "I had one of these imaginations ... I had to be creative. I would write ideas, short stories, poetry."

She also enjoys doing readings. For the past year, she has done readings around the county, at library events, elementary schools and at TownMall in Westminster.

"It's always good to look around and see (children's) faces," Neumeister said.

Zeus loves it, too, she said. "He doesn't have a bad bone in his body."

Cheryl Rosendahl, director of the Y Journeys Early Childhood, was thrilled that Neumeister joined them for Wednesday's event. The reading was scheduled to coincide with the center's first book fair. Now in its 44th year, the center is for ages 2 to 4 and has an enrollment of 96 students.

"It adds a whole new dimension," Rosendahl said of the reading. "In our curriculum. we talk about what an author is and what an illustrator is. This really brings it to life for them."

Ben Fenlon, of Hampstead, said he and his children, Clara, 5, Lyla, 3, and Thomas, 1, enjoyed the book, and the opportunity to meet with a local author.

"We thought it was terrific," Fenlon said. "It was a very fun family event."

"My Dog Eats Peas" is available at Amazon.com and at Barnes and Noble. To arrange a reading of the book, call Tonya Neumeister at 443-244-2755.

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