‘Boogies and the Woogies’ author Marianne Reed says book has message of peace despite differences

Woogie character and writer will visit with kids Friday at Fitton Center event.

HAMILTON — Area children’s book author Marianne Reed has penned and illustrated a book with a relevant theme that is capturing the attention of community members and leaders.

Reed’s book, “The Boogies and the Woogies” is a 32-page children’s fiction, picture book. The book introduces readers to two groups of creatures, the Boogies and the Woogies, who argue about their differing opinions. What transpires in the story is how to settle our differences peacefully as kids learn that we’re really not that different after all. Love, respect and common ground are some of the key themes conveyed in the book.

Reed will make an appearance at the Fitton Center with a live “Woogie” Friday evening for a story time and to sign copies of her book, prior to the start of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $6 for Fitton Center members and $8 for non-members. To purchase tickets to the show, go to www.fittoncenter.org.

The Journal-News spoke with Reed in a Q & A to find out more about her book, the story and how it’s impacting readers in the community.

Question: Tell us about yourself.

Marianne Reed: I write books for children, and this is the first one that I’ve published, though I have a couple more that I’ve written. They are all books about ‘The Boogies and the Woogies.’ I grew up right here in Hamilton. I haven’t lived here all of my life, but I grew up here. I was away for a while and now I’m back. I’ve been back for a couple of years. I live out in the country with my teenage daughter, Veda. I went to Badin High School and graduated in 1983. I’ve had a couple of careers. I was a graphic artist for “Cincinnati Enquirer,” and I was a pediatric nurse as well, and now, I write children’s books. I’m also a musician. I sing and play guitar.

Q: What made you want to write children’s books?

A: I’ve always loved children’s books. When I was a child, I loved them. I loved going to The Lane Libraries with my mom and my brothers and sisters. I loved the tiny Beatrix Potter books so much that I wanted to illustrate children’s books, and that was always my dream. I’ve never grown out of loving children’s books. I have always gone straight for them at any bookstore. I just love to read good children’s books, and I really love the illustrations most of all. So, that was my dream to illustrate children’s books, but I was busy doing other things, being a mom and a working person. About a year ago, I decided to write my own story and illustrate it.

Q: What is your book, “The Boogies and the Woogies” about?

A: Well, the Boogies and the Woogies live in a nice place, except that they can’t agree with one another. They’re divided by their differences of opinion. Essentially, they are the same, but they perceive one another as you’re wrong and I’m right. So, over time, the division actually creates a crack in the ground, which grows wider day by day, and the children, metaphorically speaking, fall into the crack and the Boogies and the Woogies have to set their differences aside to save the children. And they come up with an ingenious idea to build a bridge across this great divide, and they save the children. Everyone is saved, and they are so happy with the bridge that they built together that they celebrate on the bridge by dancing, and then, they name the bridge ‘The Boogie Woogie Bridge.’ After that, they are just much happier, even though no one had to change their opinion or anything, they just decided to look past their differences for the common good.

Q: Why do you feel like this story is an important one to tell?

A: This is a story for all ages. It’s a wonderful bedtime story for children, but it also seems to resonate with people of all ages. I don’t think I planned it this way, but it happens to be extremely timely for the issues that we’re living in today, across the world, really – in our neighborhoods, in our towns, across the country, and in the world with the divisions that seem to be almost so great that we can’t bridge the gap, but my book, I feel, might give a moment of hope that no matter how great the divide has become, we can always bridge the gap, simply by looking past our differences for a moment and seeing one another as brothers of the human family.

Q: You’ve gotten involved in the community, and the book is capturing the attention of community members and leaders, tell us about that?

A: It’s all been one great connection leading to the next, and the next, and the next. My sister, Alice Saurber, is the ‘Woogie” and we were invited by Brandon Saurber to come to the town hall meeting of 17 Strong. So, we showed up, and I gave a brief description of the story, put on the music, and everyone was up dancing with the Woogie, and it was a real hit. So, ever since then, I’ve had loads of incredible support from 17 Strong, David Stark, Kathy Klink, and so many others, who really want to get behind this book, because it aligns so well with the heart and soul of Hamilton, which is the slogan being, ‘The We is Greater Than the Me.’ And we just feel like we’re a good match for each other as far as spreading that message of coming together. So, that led to being introduced to Ian MacKenzie-Thurley, executive director at the Fitton Center, who also has been super supportive. He invited me to do a reading at the Fitton Center.

Q: What are you most looking forward to about being at the Fitton Center and being able to share your story with the people there?

A: The best moments for me are when the kids laugh at the story, and when they start dancing on the bridge. The best feeling is when someone is delighted by my book, and of course, seeing their faces when the live Woogie comes out.

Q: Why would you encourage community members to come out and enjoy “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” and to hear your story read before the show?

A: I would definitely encourage that. With a storytime, it’s a wonderful way to create a bond with your child and to just have those happy memories that you can remember for a lifetime.

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

A: My book, “The Boogies and the Woogies” may have a strong message, but it is basically lighthearted and upbeat. My favorite theme of this book, and there are several, actually, but the one that comes from my heart is that the wisdom of our children ultimately lead us back to harmony. So, I’d like to think that this book is my way of acknowledging the wisdom of children and I hope that children feel acknowledged by reading it.

Q: How can we find your book?

A: My book came out earlier this year on Barringer Publishing. The book is available online at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Powell’s Books. There are links to purchase the book on my website at www.mariannereed.com. Signed copies will also be available at the Fitton Center on Friday night.

I also have created a spin-off series of cartoons of “The Boogies and the Woogies” that I post regularly on Facebook. It’s called “Funetics” and it’s the dictionary of “The Boogies and the Woogies.” It’s made-up words and things we can all relate to. For example, the word “Squg” is a very squeezy hug and it’s a picture of a big Boogie hugging her little Woogie. The cartoon series will also soon be featured in “The Hamiltonian” magazine. I’ll have an entire page in every issue. The group called “Healthy Hamilton Coalition” has purchased 1,000 books and possibly more to distribute throughout the city to children and they are also assisting me, with the help of Dan Bates of the Chamber of Commerce, in creating a Spanish translation of the book to get out to children in Hamilton as well.

Earlier this year, I was honored with a five-star award called “Readers’ Favorite,” and I’ve just won a second award, “Mom’s Choice Awards,” which is a really big honor for me.

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