Teaching the art of writing
‘Moby Pincher’ began as spoken stories at preschool during story time
By Barbara Leader for The News Star

Five years ago, local author Dee Scallan, was taking the first steps toward marketing her book about the most kind-hearted crawfish in the South, “Moby Pincher.” Today, she’s making presentations at Disneyland, helping young authors publish their works, recording voice-overs for her Internet books, and conducting workshops in several states.

Moby Pincher began as spoken stories at Scallan’s preschool during story time, but has now become a six book series, with four more in process. As Scallan waits for publication of those remaining four books, she is staying busy with new ventures — chief among them is an expansion of the “We Want to be Authors” program which coaches elementary school children through the process of brainstorming, writing, illustrating, editing and finally publishing a book. Scallan says the program is an effort toward a unique way of teaching designed to meet the needs of most students.

“So much has been taken out of schools — art, creativity and imagination in favor of working toward the test,” Scallan said. “We’re just teaching the curriculum in a different way.”

To date, Scallan has published 20 books with elementary school students for the school’s libraries and for each child to keep a single copy. Now, Scallan is beginning a new chapter in her own life as she begins recording the books to put on the Internet so that children all over may access the tales written by many of the state’s elementary school children.

The books will be available free of charge and will provide an opportunity for students to follow along with the books online while listening to Scallan’s and friends with their animated voiceovers as they reinforce the morals of the characters conceived and created in Louisiana and Texas classrooms.

A grant from the Louisiana Reading Association is helping to finance the effort and the expenses associated with the internet accessibility. Tommy Usrey and the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council have also been supportive of the “We Want to be Authors” program.

“It’s not a money-making venture,” Scallan says. “But it is promoting Louisiana, literacy and our children.”

The featured books include “Freddie the Frog Thought He was a Duck” by students from Bernice Elementary about a frog who thinks he’s a duck and “Roll On, Roland” by students from Sallie Humble Elementary about a roly poly who loved to roll.

Selections will also include two bilingual books which will offer readings in both Spanish and English.

Scallan says initially 16 or 17 of the books will be available online and others will be added as soon as possible. Illustrations featured in the books and online are a combination of the work of all of the children in the classes, oftentimes combining more than one child’s work into the same illustration.

The books should be available for listening online within the next two weeks at www.mobypincher.com.

For more information on Scallan, Moby Pincher or the “We Want to be Authors” program visit her Web site.