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Mother/son team pen chapter book / June 07, 2010
Hot off the press is SOBO SLEUTH, a children’s chapter book written by Nancy Cook with help from her son Joel, part-time residents of South Boston and huge supporters of Parson’s-Bruce Art Asociation.

The delightful mystery concerns the theft of two paintings from the Parsons-Bruce Art Gallery, and the colorful characters who lead the way to solving the crime – including some well known local personalities.

The book can be purchased at the Parsons-Bruce Gallery for $5 with 30 percent of the proceeds going to support the local arts organization. Nancy and Joel will be at the Gallery during the June 17 Third Thursday event to meet and greet and sign copies of the book.

Illustrated by artist Daniel Ziembo, Joel’s grandfather and Nancy’s father-in-law, this intergenerational project took off when the Cook family became enamored with South Boston, Halifax County, the Prizery, the speedway and everything else the area has to offer.

“We love it here,” Cook says. “The people are so friendly, there is no traffic and we can see the stars at night – a huge attraction for us.”

Cook resides in Maryland most of the year with her husband and sons, eleven year old Joel and fifteen year old Evan. The director of a pre-school, she has long been a lover of children’s books and passed that love on to Joel, who is also an avid reader.

“While in the third grade,” Cook says, “Joel wrote a brief mystery story featuring his grandfather, himself and some missing paintings. We always thought it would be nice to write a children’s book together.”

Before becoming a pre-school director Cook was a pre-school teacher for many years and remembers the advice once given to her while on a field trip to meet a children’s book author. “The author explained that in order to write a good children’s book, one needs to first read many children’s books. Then, when writing a book, the author needs to always include funny bits for grown-ups who may be reading the book to children.”

That trip and advice made an impression on her.

“Before my first visit to South Boston, my father-in-law had just illustrated his first children’s book. When I stepped into Parsons-Bruce Gallery and learned about their wonderful efforts to support arts education, it all came together in my mind. I became determined to write a children’s book set in South Boston to benefit the Parsons-Bruce Gallery.”

The mom and son team decided to re-visit Joel’s third grade mystery.

“School was out so I worked on the book every night. Joel and I discussed characters, the plot, and we read and re-read every line together. I really wanted to connect the plot to South Boston and the many lovely people I have met here. I wanted to appeal to young readers from South Boston, but also to inspire young readers from outside the area to want to visit Halifax County.”

To this end, the book includes some fun SOBO facts and a kid’s guide to things to do in the community, including the Prizery, Little Theatre, VIR and the South Boston Speedway.

The family visits frequently and has purchased a home here.

“We came to town so many times as a family that we decided to buy a small house close to town so now SOBO SLEUTH has an official residence in South Boston!”

The community is invited to meet Nancy and Joel for a book-signing at the Parsons-Bruce Art Gallery during South Boston’s first Third Thursday event of the season on Thursday, June 17, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. That evening the Gallery will also hold a live auction of a work created by the SOBO SLEUTH illustrator and Illinois artist Dan Ziembo.

Copies of SOBO SLEUTH are available at the Gallery and next door at Three Women No Truck, located on Main Street in South Boston or may be purchased during the Third Thursday event.

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