Farm adventure spurs children’s book series


Farm adventure spurs children’s book series The Suminskis were losing all their chickens to foxes, raccoons, possums, and other creatures. They had to do something. But before they had a chance to put a plan in place, Jerome Suminski, was looking out the window one day and saw a fox with one of the chickens in its mouth. Without hesitation, he bounded after the fox until it dropped the chicken, which he nursed back to health. The family decided to purchase a Great Pyrenees puppy and train it to guard the farm. When adults, the 80 to 100-plus-pound white mountain dogs are known for their pleasant demeanor with humans but as excellent livestock guard dogs. “Sam,” quickly endeared himself to the family. And, the following year, the farm lost only one chicken. Claire Suminski had an idea: she would use her skills as a homeschool mother as well as her passion for and knowledge of such family-friendly book series as The Boxcar Children, Little House on the Prairie, and Anne of Green Gables, to craft a series based on Sam. Because their farm is in the Cowee area, the family decided on Cowee Sam. The first book tells the story of Sam’s reason for coming to the farm. Suminski found an illustrator, Ros Webb, based in Ireland, through the online freelance site Fivver to achieve fanciful watercolors that communicate the story of Cowee Sam, the farm, and life in and around Macon County. The graphic designer, Susan Swedlund, resides part-time in Franklin and part-time in Wisconsin; and, the four books so far of the planned 10-book series is a family affair, with each Suminski contributing in some way. Cowee Sam and the Swift Water Rescue, for example, incorporates knowledge from both Joe and Jamy Beth, who are trained swift water rescuers. Each book is not just a story, but fun and educational. The intention of each Cowee Sam book is to connect with readers by featuring profiles of those involved, further reading and illustrations to teach aspects of the story, a song by a local musician with a link for listening online, a recipe, glossary of terms, puzzles, word searches, poetry, and more. The goal is for children to gain additional knowledge through the story telling. Claire enjoys taking the stories and corresponding lessons into area classrooms. Cowee Sam books are featured at local author events, including the upcoming Saturday, Sept. 8, Read Local Book Fair, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Macon County Public Library in Franklin. Plus, at least a dozen retail establishments sell the books, including Books Unlimited on Main Street. And, look for the stories to appear as installations with Story Walk, an outdoor Read2Me program in area parks and on the Little Tennessee River Greenway.