Students go back to nature

Wednesday, December 3, 2003

Most of the students at Franklin Elementary have never seen a gray fox, or even spent time in its native habitat -- the woods.

It was city-bound children like these that Lorna Domke had in mind when she sat down to write a story about Missouri's wildlife.

"Most of what you see on TV isn't about Missouri, it's about Africa or somewhere like that," said Domke, a Missouri Conservation Department worker and author of "Fox in the Forest."

Domke and "Fox in the Forest" illustrator, David Besenger, both based in Jefferson City, were in Cape Girardeau Tuesday sharing their book with students at Franklin.

On fox's trail

"Fox in the Forest," which became available in October, explores the forest and its inhabitants through the eyes of a young gray fox and a flea that has hitched a ride on the fox's back.

"The author and illustrator were really cool, and the book was good, too," said 8-year-old Casey Haselbusch, whose favorite part of the book was when the baby fox returned safely to his den.

Domke and Besenger explained the work that went into publishing the book and told students about the conservation department's efforts to promote Missouri wildlife.

The book taught 9-year-old Jayasiona Jones more than just how to identify a wood thrush or wild turkey.

"I learned that you shouldn't go out unless your parents say you should," said Jones.

Each classroom at Franklin will receive a copy of "Fox in the Forest," paid for with federal Title I funds.

"There's not a lot of books out there about Missouri," said Beth Thomas, an art teacher at Franklin who helped organize the visit. "This has been great for the students. It's important for them to understand how artists and writers work."

cclark@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 128

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