By HOWARD BALABAN firstname.lastname@example.org
Medina Journal-Register — For Stephanie Dikey, dreams do come true.
As an elementary school teacher in Boca Raton, Fla., Dikey said her students have always enjoyed the stories she shared with them about her pets, Phoenix and Tucson.
At some point Dikey realized the stories were more than just about a cat and a dog.
“It’s about friendship, and the unlikely friendship between a cat and a dog,” she said.
Basing her book off of her own pets provided plenty of source material for Dikey, who said she has plans to make The Adventures of Phoenix and Tucson a childrens’ book series. Book one, The Great Rescue, was ushered in Saturday at The Book Shoppe in Medina, where Dikey visited with friends and family and patrons who had her autograph purchased copies.
Dikey, who graduated Medina High School in 1998 as Stephanie Meindl, said she wrote the book for several reasons.
“I think it will inspire my students,” she said hopefully. “They’ll look at me as someone who’s published something. When I started teaching I started learning to love to write, and I’m hoping this inspires my students to write.”
A teacher at heart, Dikey also put subtle and obvious lessons in the book.
“I kept in mind while I was writing the book that it’s not just for kids; it can be for teachers, too,” she explained. “There are teaching resources at the end, from one teacher to another.”
Dikey noted how she made the book a “mentor text” that can help teach a variety of facets of language arts.
A former teacher in Webster, Dikey visited her old school late last week and did a presentation with the book. She showed the students the process she went through in creating the book, and how there were a number of drafts and ideas that needed to be sorted out before the completion of a finished product.
The last group of students Dikey had in Webster were on hand as fifth-graders. She said that when they were in her second grade class they published a book together for a Scholastic Books contest. The class received an honorable mention, she recalled.
“Now they’ve seen it’s possible and you can do it,” she said of what she likes to call her “furry tale.”
The Medina visit was not part of the original trip she had planned, but Dikey said the schedule broke in favor, allowing the hour-long trek from Rochester.
Overall, Dikey said Phoenix and Tucson and their adventures - the next book is in the works - are about friendship in general. She said her animals’ stories are meant to promote that ideal, but also learning.
“Teaching is at the core of these stories,” she said. “And I want kids to get excited about reading and writing.”