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On the bookshelf: Locally-made literature steals the holiday spotlight

Staying indoors has become a mainstream activity in 2020, and as temperatures drop and gift-giving season draws near, new books from local authors are waiting to be pulled from the shelf.


Peggy Archer is an award-winning children’s book author who crafts fic- tion, poetry and non-fiction works from her home in O’Fallon. “A Hippy-Hoppy Toad” details one little frog’s adventure through nature with plenty of fun sound effects and rhythmic rhymes. “Name That Dog! Puppy Poems from A to Z” encourages readers to learn the alphabet by exploring a poetic list of puppy names. Learn more at peggyarcher.com.

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“Thelma and the Thunderstorm” is the second book in a series by Fort Zum- walt teacher and military veteran Leah Scott. The series teaches children how to deal with weather disasters. The book also includes a two-page, non-fiction section discussing the phenomena of lightning and thunder to help educate young audiences. Available on amazon.com.

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Earlier this summer, Missouri Historical Society Press published “Ruth’s River Dreams” by Elizabeth A. Pickard and illustrated by Catherine G. Sibley. Written for ages 3 to 7, the book introduces early readers to Ruth Ferris, a steward of St. Louis’ maritime heritage who became captivated by the Mississippi River as a child. The book provides an introduction to Mississippi River literature for those too young for authors like Mark Twain. Visit mohistory.org/publications for more infor- mation and similar works.


History was made in St. Louis in 1881 when two Irish-American families began a candy company in the kitchen of a tene- ment of the St. Louis’ Irish slum. “Candy Men: The Story of Switzer’s Licorice” by Patrick Murphy tells the story of how two families achieved built their entrepreneurial dreams through their iconic candy creations, including black licorice and cherry whips. The book tells how the company showed tenacity through two World Wars, economic depressions and labor unrest. Available through reedypress.com.

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Imagine if one’s lifelong mission to rescue children spurred battles with for- eign governments, organized crime syn- dicates and even government agencies in one’s own country. “Was She Still Dead in October” is the true story of Brenda Maly, the CEO of a St. Louis child welfare organization and member of the Missouri Governor’s Child Abuse and Neglect Board. Maly shares how her mission to travel the world to fight adoption scandals and rescue orphans puts her at the other end of a gun more times than once. Visit wasshestilldead.com.


“The Bitter Divide” by Rory Riddler examines the Civil War history of St. Charles, and how the city played a significant role in helping to hold Missouri for the Union during the state’s time as a heavily divided border state. Riddler is also the author of “For King, Cross & County” which details the colonial and territorial history of St. Charles from its founding to statehood. Both titles are avail- able through the St. Charles Historical Society (scchs.org).

The Bitter Divide

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“Missouri: An Illustrated Timeline” by local news anchor and political correspondent John W. Brown is a collection of important moments throughout 200 years of history that have defined Missouri as the state it is today. This includes, but is not limited to, the presidency of Missouri native Harry S. Truman, a grasshopper plague that destroyed parts of the state, and the historic 1876 splitting of St. Louis City and County in an event that has since become known as “The Great Divorce.” Available through reedypress.com.

Missouri An Illustrated Timeline
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