Children memorialize ice storm adventure in new book

Friday, May 4, 2007

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Elementary school children who had the adventure of their young lifetimes after January's paralyzing ice storm have committed their tales to paper in a new book.

Called "Lights Out! Hotels, Fires, Generators and Grandma's House," the 56-page book has entries by all 345 students at Springfield's Field Elementary School. Some of the young authors will sign copies Saturday when the $10 volume goes on sale at Brentwood Library.

Teachers and principal Nancy Colbaugh hatched the idea when the children returned to classes buzzing about living without heat and electricity, in some cases for weeks. Every student from kindergarten through fifth grade was asked to capture those experiences on paper.

"We went to my grandparents' house, and left my gerbil loose in the house with my two cats -- a disaster waiting to happen," wrote fourth-grader Kayley Marquardt. "I'll always remember the ice storm of 2007, and so will the cats."

Colbaugh's favorite entry was from fourth-grader Rebecca Harper.

"These couple of weeks were so fun that someday I wish to do that with my grandchildren," Rebecca wrote.

"As I heard the descriptions, the humor and wonderful perspective that only children can bring, it seemed natural to collect these ideas and images into a book," Colbaugh said.

She said the volume "captures the sense of loss and apprehension that children felt as well as the warmth of family and fireplaces and togetherness."

Although the children are clearly the stars of the undertaking, the book's preparation became a community affair.

Printed by Field parents Dave and Karen Cantrell, of Cantrell-Barnes Printing Co., the volume was intended as a memento of the ice storm for Field families, Colbaugh said.

But the school agreed to donate proceeds from the sales toward buying new trees to replace some of the thousands that were destroyed in the storm.

Students from two high schools spent a day at Field helping select and edit the entries. David Harrison, a children's book author from Springfield, coached the high school volunteers. And Glendale High School teacher Lisa Wingo, who has a child at Field, involved her yearbook staff in the layout and design.

Funding came in part from Cantrell-Barnes Printing, Community Foundation of the Ozarks Youth Empowerment Project, Springfield Public School Foundation and Conco, Colbaugh said.

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