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  • Writer's picturePattie Harte-Naus

In the Beginning

From the moment I wrote my first words down on paper creating the character of Peter McDugal, I’ve discovered this to be a journey full of surprises. From the writing of the first book "The Adventures of Peter McDugal", to discovering the secrets of Belden School, I feel as if I opened Pandora’s Box.  I think of this journey as the gift that keeps on giving. My final Master's Class assignment from NIU asked us to go out and ‘create’ something for children. As an elementary teacher I did just that!  My friend Beth worked for the Association in the Galena Territory during this time. She handed me a piece of paper that had the name and contact number of a gentleman farmer in the nearby town of Stockton. She asked me to try to revive the old one-room Belden School that was set off the beaten path in the Galena Territory.

“His name is Big Bob," Beth said,  "and he can be a tough. He has some old journals of Belden School that he dug out of the garbage.  He’s very knowledgeable. Many have tried to restore the old school and failed. It’s worth a try.”  It didn’t take long.  Big Bob and I became fast friends and worked together toward a common goal ...helping to save the one-room schoolhouse called Belden School.

As of today my assignment, or the gift keeps on giving, is now a three book anti-bullying series for children called "The Belden Boy Series"! There was a tremendous amount of  research such as interesting interviews with the elderly students who attended Belden School before it closed its doors to consolidation in 1943, the discovery of artifacts, and hidden information from the 1871 and 1923 Belden School journals...all of these factors led to this award winning children's series!

The three book anti-bullying Belden Boy Series is used by many schools for their curriculum, as well as read and enjoyed by children. Those who have come to love the adventures of Peter McDugal and Franky have made the trek to the real Belden School, setting of the series. Children of all ages have enjoyed morning lessons within the limestone walls of Belden School since its restoration some years ago.

But, there’s more...the new Belden Boy Writing Camp has just completed its third year whereas young budding authors come to write and illustrate their own children’s picture bookl in a three day camp in summer! Children enjoy picnic lunches, camp activities, and socializing among others their age.

Recently, Whistleslick Press was established now publishing the Belden Boy Series.

Author Visits to elementary schools introduce the Belden Boy Series books in a presentation titled "What's Your Story?".  Children will become excited about the  process of writing words down on paper and bringing their characters alive!

The on-going journey of Belden Boy has not concluded…far from it.  Secrets continue to be revealed. Stay tuned for the next blog!

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