By DAVID GREEN
Jodi (Stiriz) Bird’s teenage son, Kyle, has had a special interest in trees and other plants since he was a young child.
He’s given his grandparents, Don and Jane Stiriz of Fayette, a couple of trees for their home, including a banana tree.
Jane recalls hearing Don tell Kyle on the telephone when he was younger how tired he gets harvesting bananas from that tree.
A few years ago Jodi decided to take Kyle’s interest in trees and create a simple field guide for parents to use with their own young children.
“Kyle would love going for walks around town as a preschooler and would always ask me what kind of tree the different fallen leaves had come from,” Jodi remembers. “I really only knew a maple leaf and so we would bring them home and look them up on the computer or in a tree book.”
That wasn't always an easy process, she said, because there are so many species.
“I felt there needed to be a book available for parents, kids and teachers that would take a few common varieties and simplify the process and then possibly ignite a passion for the outdoors,” she said.
She wrote the text, but waited a long time for the illustrations to be completed. The book was finally published last fall.
“Because I wanted the style of this book to be illustrated in a special way, I was a bit picky about who I wanted to do it,” Jodi explained. “I finally came across a publishing company in Indiana, AuthorHouse, that provided an in-house illustrator who did fine line drawings.”
She never met or even spoke with the illustrator.
Jodi has presented her book to school classrooms and at libraries and she’s pleased with the response from children.
“I think kids have a natural love for the outdoors, but they may not know what to look for while walking around,” she said.
Her book gives them a starting point, sort of an ‘I Spy’ format.
Her tree book, “Going on a Hunt,” won’t be her last simply because Kyle isn’t her only child.
“I have two other children and they have already asked me when ‘their’ books are going to be written,” said Jodi. “I have started the next book with my daughter as the main character. It will be a chapter book with Route 66 being the main theme and setting.”
• Jodi will travel from her home in Lancaster, Ohio, to Fayette this weekend for an Easter visit, and a book signing is planned. She will have books available for sale from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Stiriz’s Pizza Stop restaurant.