“The Boston Terrier Who Thought He Was a Loon” - A children’s book by Windham teacher Michelle Patch
By Walter Lunt
One year ago, the furthest thing from Michelle Patch’s mind was to become an author. It was the heartbreak of losing a beloved family pet, 15-year old Rollie, her Boston terrier that compelled Patch to write his story. It became therapy to overcome grief.
Based on real events, “The Boston Terrier Who Thought He Was a Loon”, illustrated by Maine artist Thomas Block, and tells the warm and amusing tale of Rollie, who lives with his human family on Thomas Pond in Raymond. Rollie is curious and playful and discovers a new friend along the shore, where he spends most of his summer days. The newcomer, he discovers, is a lot like him: It’s black and white, swims, and sings a greeting. As the season progresses and wanes, Rollie dives after tennis balls, rides a paddle board and scans the waves in search of his new feathered friends - the loons. He watches them dive, feed on fish and interprets their call as a greeting, which he returns with a happy bark. One day, Rollie’s friends disappear. Block captures the beauty of the changing seasons on the pond. Rollie watches and waits.
Rollie’s story charms the reader with its subtle, yet powerful themes of friendship, sense-of-place and the delight and pleasure of family pets.
“I tried to capture the energy, fun and magic that was Rollie,” Patch told the Eagle in her office at Windham Primary School, where she is a counselor; “It’s amazing to me how it’s having the effect of joy on the kids. I haven’t yet had a negative review.”
The book is a hit with the K-3 classes at the school. “I liked the details,” said Mallory, a first grader; “Rollie swims with the kids and the loons eat the fish.” She pointed to a picture of Rollie jumping off a boat to greet a loon that quickly disappears under water. “I liked when he jumped,” she said, then added, “It was cool, but dangerous.”
“When Rollie died last year, I couldn’t stop thinking about him,” said Patch. “Then I made the connection - he was one of my three great passions: Thomas Pond, loons and Rollie. They meshed together into this story.”
Popular and successful children’s books exhibit characteristics of strong characters, a relatable story, wholesome messages and striking pictures. “The Boston Terrier Who Thought He Was a Loon”, has all of them and is recommended for kids of all ages.
Michelle Patch will be at Windham Public Library on March 6 to discuss her maiden journey as a writer and to sign copies of her book. Readers can also visit: www.michellepatch.com. <