Author selected as ‘One of 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading’
By Dwight Hobbes
Caring isn’t merely a word to M. Ann Machen Pritchard (don’t ask what the M. stands for, she won’t tell you). It’s a heart-and-soul-felt sense of commitment to community, which moved her to write and illustrate the uniquely empowering books Phil the Pill and Friends: Making Positive Choices and Val’s World: Featuring the Family Unity Roundtable.
The best children’s books aren’t written only for kids. Accordingly, Phil the Pill and Friends and Val’s World deliver important messages to young minds that are vital in helping adults strengthen the fabric of the family and thereby that proverbial village that it takes to raise a child, cornerstone and key to the future. It’s quite fitting that Ms. Pritchard has been selected “One of 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading for 2013-2014” by The Authors Show.com.
Phil the Pill and Friends wisely features a character who brings to light the fact that not all drugs are destructive, that used properly and responsibly, pharmaceuticals, to the contrary, are meant to promote and support good health. It’s all a matter of getting the right information and making the right choice.
That information is an invaluable, as it were, side effect of a charming visit with Phil and company — assorted cutely drawn pills — primarily focusing on one of the author’s main concerns, education. “Phil’s goal,” reads the dust jacket, “is to encourage kids to stay in school, read, and make positive choices in life.”
Val’s World dovetails education with Pritchard’s other priority, family well-being. The dust jacket here reads, “Val is excited because she wants everyone to communicate with their families positively.” Each book contains a highly original feature that sets it apart from run-of-the-mill fare.
Phil the Pill and Friends has sheet music and lyrics to underscore the message, “Get plenty of rest so you can be your best.” Val’s World includes recipes simple enough for little ones to help grown-ups prepare food for the dinner table. Few activities are more effective at creating and sustaining a family bond than making and eating a meal together.
Sitting in a South Minneapolis coffee shop, an impassioned Ms. Pritchard imparts, “If you teach the child positivity, not keep things bottled up inside, maybe they might not get to the drugs and the alcohol — the gangs, all the crime.”
She also is a devout believer in hugs as a means of nurturing a child toward emotional and mental health. “If he or she is angry or acting out, too many parents will put them in a corner — or beat them — instead of giving a loving hug and asking, ‘What’s on your mind? What’s the matter?’
“If a child feels respected and cared about, they’re going to grow up to be a better person. They’ll be able to get through trials and tribulation in their life, be able to cope. There’s always going to be problems, but I’m hoping my books will be able to help make a change. The children that learn how to communicate, it might help the parents learn how to communicate [as well].”
She states that through her writing she wants to make a difference in the world, to “make it better place for all of us,” which might sound either naïve or grandiose. But if you think about it, where else is a difference in our world going to originate if not with the young? As we routinely see lives ruined by drugs and by family dysfunction, one must credit M. Ann Pritchard for getting at and working to do something about the root cause.
These texts are literally picture perfect for the classroom, especially in public schools where curriculums chronically fail students of color. The suitability of Phil the Pill, Friends: Making Positive Choices, and Val’s World: Featuring the Family Unity Roundtable to leveling the academic field is hardly happenstance.
The author’s extensive experience in nurturing young minds includes but is by no means limited to conducting a reading at Oakwood Elementary School, guest speaking at Youth Workshop for Positive Interventions, and volunteering at StudentsFirst.org and for CRP/ZBC Art Program North Side Youth Initiative. Pritchard flatly, emphatically states, “I hate seeing children not being treated equal. Not having the same chance as others.”
Additionally, she is a featured author in Spotlight on Books and by the Minnesota Reading Association. She was nominated for a Hollywood Book Award and for a Minnesota Book Award. For good measure, M. Ann Pritchard’s writing comes wholeheartedly endorsed by no less prominent sources than Hillary Rodham Clinton, Laura Bush and Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York.
There’s also The Spirit of Sixteen, based on a true story, carrying Pritchard’s commitment to the young past their formative beginnings into adolescence. It’s about teenager Gloria Ann Freely, who graduates the school of figurative and literal hard knocks to not just survive but prevail as a young woman whose spiritual faith sees her through.
Phil the Pill and Friends: Making Positive Choices, Val’s World: Featuring the Family Unity Roundtable and The Spirit of Sixteen are available at MAMP Creations (www.cafepress.com/mampcreations), www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com and, of course, in stores.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.
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