HARKER HEIGHTS — Little Red Pen, Violet the Golden Retriever and other storybook characters came to life Tuesday in programs presented by authors Susan Stevens Crummel and Janet Stevens at Harker Heights Elementary.

Crummel and Stevens, who are sisters, have collaborated on many children’s books over the past 10 years, including Texas Bluebonnet Award winner “Cook-a-Doodle-Doo!” and “And The Dish Ran Away With The Spoon.” Stevens, also an artist, illustrates the books.

This was Crummel’s fourth visit to Harker Heights Elementary but the first time for her sister, Principal Carolyn Duggar said.

“(Stevens) is never in Killeen, so this is a really rare occasion,” Duggar said.

Through slideshows, videos, funny photos, costumes, role-playing and storytelling, the sisters explained to students how most of the characters in their books and many of the storylines came from their own experiences and from pets and people they know.

For instance, Sparky and Violet, characters in the book “Help Me, Mr. Mutt,” were modeled after Stevens’ golden retriever and a neighbor’s dog. Little Red Pen, the main character in the book of the same name, was inspired by the sisters’ red-ink-happy book editor.

And their book “Jackalope” came from childhood memories of a Jackalope that hung on a wall of their cousins’ house.

“They used to always scare us with it,” Crummel said.

At the close of the program, students were given a writing assignment using a bear character they helped Stevens draw. The author presentations are designed to encourage students to read and write more, Duggar said.

“Will it make them better writers? We hope.”

Contact Kristi Johnson at kristij@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7548

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