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'This is the official book birthday'

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SIGNING:Sherry West, a local children’s book author, signs a copy of her new book after a Tuesday mornining reading at the Peru Public Library.
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FIRST READ:Local author, Sherry West, reads her new book, “It’s Raining Cats! It’s Raining Dogs! It’s Raining Bats! And Pollywogs!” to local children at the Peru Public Library on Tuesday morning as the book’s co-illustrator,Larkin Stephens-Avery, looks on.

BY JARED KEEVER - jkeever@perutribune.com

Area children and their parents got a chance Tuesday to mingle with a newly published author when they gathered at the Peru Public Library for one of this week’s story times.

“This is the official book birthday,” Sherry West told the small crowd that had gathered to hear her read her first book, “It’s Raining Cats! It’s Raining Dogs! It’s Raining Bats! And Pollywogs!”

West, a local, was joined by her co-illustrator, Larkin Stephens-Avery.

The book, she said later, went up for sale on Amazon on Tuesday and has been available as an e-book since July.

Speaking to the children, she explained that the library was a good place for the first reading because the idea for it was conceived within its walls.

West explained that she met Stephens-Avery, a library employee, at the coloring group the library hosts.

“She helped illustrate the book,” West told the kids. “She’s a fantastic artist.”

She then led the crowd in a reading of the book, complete with some acting out of various scenes and discussion of some of the favorite animals featured in the book.

Afterward, Stephens-Avery said the opportunity to participate in the project seemed like a natural fit. An art major at Indiana University-Kokomo, she said she learned that West was working on the project and needed help with the illustrating.

“So I said, ‘Well, I can help her with that,’” she recalled.

The library hosts story times every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:30 a.m. and library director, Maryann Farnhan, said they occasionally get readings like Tuesday’s.

“If we have authors that are local, we try to have them come in,” she said. “We have had quite a few over the years.”

West, as she signed copies of her book for customers after the reading, said she has more books in the works, but after a long process getting her first to press she promised her family that she would take a break first.

“It was kind of a steep learning curve,” she said, laughing.

Copies of “It’s Raining Cats! It’s Raining Dogs! It’s Raining Bats! And Pollywogs!” are also available to borrow at the library.