Sally Dollar packages life lessons for children in her collection of bite-size poetry treats.
When Sally Dollar decided to purposefully share some key life lessons with her children, she tapped into a sweet childhood memory to do so in a memorable way. “I have vivid memories of my mom reading poetry to me as a child and memorizing my favorites. I’ve always enjoyed poetry – the rhythm and the beat – and the ability to pack so much meaning into just a few stanzas on a page,” she says.
So, Sally began spending an hour each day during her daughter’s naptimes to write poems. In March of this year, a collection of 61 of her favorites were published in a brightly illustrated book titled, The Gumball Lottery: A Delicious Assortment of Rhymes.
“It’s full of optimism, encouragement and humor, which frankly, the world needs a little more of these days,” she says with a smile. “When life lessons are conveyed in a fun and often funny way, kids will actually enjoy learning them. I like to say it’s like ‘broccoli cleverly hiding in cheese.’”
Although Sally recognizes that novels and chapter books are priceless, she points out the value of poetry, as well. “Sometimes you just want to take a few minutes and enjoy something bite-sized and sweet—kind of like gumballs!”
The title poem, The Gumball Lottery, is one of her favorites in the book because of the life lesson it teaches. “Basically, a kiddo picks out a specific gumball in the machine and takes a chance (actually, multiple chances) to win the sweet prize,” she says. “But (like many things in life), it doesn’t go exactly as planned. However, there’s a lesson learned during that process: ‘I guess in this game of hope and chance, there’s a lesson to be had — When you don’t get what you want, sometimes it’s not so bad. In fact, sometimes it’s even better,’” she recites.
Another favorite poem is the first one in her book. Titled “Find Your THING,” it encourages readers to find their “thing,” their talent, their hobby, whatever it may be — to embrace it and do it well. “There’s a lesson in that for all of us, children and adults alike,” she says.
A Family Effort
The mom-author not only wrote The Gumball Lottery for her own children, (Luke, 11; Anna, 9; Maggie, 4), but let them be a part of the writing process, too.
“Before the book was published, I read the manuscript to them, getting their feedback and ideas,” she says. “My kids inspired so many of the poems in the book. If we had a funny conversation about unicorns or narwhals or sloths, I wrote a poem about it. If one of my kids got nervous about riding a giant roller coaster, I wrote a poem about it. If one of them said, ‘I love you more than pancakes,’ I wrote a poem about it. Now, it’s pretty priceless to read those poems with them and share my inspiration with them—and all the funny stories behind them.”
Words and Art: A Perfect Pairing
Sally credits her friend and Mt. Laurel neighbor Rorie Scroggins for the charming illustrations throughout the book that bring her poems to life. “My children have attended Rorie’s art camps for several years, and we also attend Double Oak Community Church together. Since we even live on the same street, we would often walk manuscripts and drawings to each other’s houses during the publishing process while our children played together,” she recalls.
During the first week of its release, The Gumball Lottery became Amazon’s No. 1 New Release in Children’s Humorous Poetry. However, to hold the final product in her hands, and to sit down and read her book to her own children, was an even more precious and priceless experience for this mom. “I love how reading fosters special moments between children and their caregivers, and for my book to be a part of fostering those moments is a very special thing indeed,” she says.
The Beginning of a Journey
When she visits schools to share her story and her poetry with classrooms of kids, Sally encourages the students to, “Take a chance. Find a dream and go chase it down.”
Now a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, she is taking her own advice, and hopes to continue walking the path of publishing with future projects.
The Gumball Lottery: A Delicious Assortment of Rhyme is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kindle and other online outlets. It is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book formats.
To learn more about the book, visit sally-dollar.com or visit her Facebook author page (Sally Dollar, Author). Schools interested in setting up an author visit can contact her at Sally@Sally-Dollar.com.