‘Pudgy’ science teacher self-publishes series of books to help Arkansas kids make better choices

“Happy Choices Today!” is a new children’s book written by Patti Faris, author of Mountainberg’s self-proclaimed “Life of a Geeky, Out-of-the-Box Life.” This is the first installment of a story series that is spun with the voices of colorful animals.

Just like in real life, no character is perfect. But, as she puts it, “When you choose to laugh, the bad things are quickly forgotten.”

In the first volume, Faris follows the daily activities of a pig named Petunia Pickles. Petunia and her forest friends educate readers about an amazing superpower that can turn what could have been a very bad day into the “best day ever”: the superpower of choice.

Pickled petunias are happy pigs. Patti Farris is one of the happy storyteller girlfriends. They share the same high energy, positive mindset, and determination to make the most of each day.

A middle school science teacher and mother of six, Faris has spent several years planning and writing a whole series of children’s books. Each story shares a common theme, “Today I Choose.” Volume 1 has 48 pages of her. She incorporates relevant curriculum to help bring her message to life.

After retiring from 28 years as a full-time teacher at Fort Smith Public Schools and becoming a substitute in early 2020, she began thinking about moving forward to publish her first book. And with the arrival of covid, her teachers started working.

Believing that the world would collapse and her children would be deeply affected by the fallout, she decided to hasten her plans and self-publish the first volume.

Faris began touring schools, libraries, and bookstores, sharing stories with young audiences.

petunia pickles

In one such reading, she walks into a room full of children, with a friendly and welcoming smile, and arms filled with interesting props that attract curious minds with her message. In the evening, she gathers her new young friends around a table or squats on the floor in a circle. As an icebreaker to get everyone on board, she starts with the game.

Then comes the introduction of Petunia Pickles, her own heart star. Petunia and her friends choose to be happy every day, singing out of tune or dancing to snappy beats.

Throughout the reading, Faris pauses to interact with the children. She asks Petunia for her pickle’s opinion on certain remarks, and asks if anyone enjoys the same activities as Petunia.

When introducing Petunia’s cast of friends, she asks the group which characters share their interests and personalities.

At the end of the reading, Faris sends the children on a treasure hunt. Can they find certain items in the story? Those who find them will be rewarded.

As a final activity, she instructs the children to make toys to take home. She says this serves as a reinforcement to remind them of how wonderful each of them is.

Faris has her element when working with children of all shapes and sizes, whom she calls “young humans.” Petunia Pickles could have said to Faris himself:

“I have a friend who is skinny, spotty and tall.

Furry, winged and colorful friends –

I love them all! “

An appendix at the end of the book provides tools for parents, grandparents, and teachers (all adults) to use when reading the story of Pickled Petunia to children. Faris lists questions to ask about the story and suggests items that children might look for during their treasure hunt.

life in the making

Her childhood experiences prepared Faris to write a book to educate young people about the keys to happiness.

Growing up in a home with an alcoholic father, she discovers a magical portal to escape to a happy place. It’s her imagination. She has learned that she can create fantasy worlds with whimsical friends and enchanting locations. The fictional circus was her favorite holiday. Here she could perform acrobatic performances and walk among exotic animals.

Her imaginary world helped isolate her from the breakdown of her home. These early spiritual adventures inspired highly developed creativity.

When he entered elementary school, Faris was diagnosed with a visual impairment that left him with difficulty calculating and measuring distances, and at times clumsy and uncoordinated. Being different can be a real challenge for anyone, especially children. Her life lessons she had to learn prepared her to help others cope with unexpected challenges.

To overcome her visual impairment, she was instructed to practice walking on a balance beam, which her father built. Through her self-control and hard work, she overcame her body clumsiness and performed well in athletics. She achieved her elite level of athleticism and won a gymnastics scholarship at Texas A&M.

Her childhood, she says, taught her the importance of taking ownership of a problem and not allowing it to dominate you.

After college, Faris learned other lessons through nearly 30 years of experience teaching middle school science while raising children. And then she started pouring her creative imagination onto paper. Her previous spiritual achievements have migrated to her written word. In many cases, she incorporated lessons from her own life into her story, so the message she wanted to convey would be one that she would remember.

Another big influence was meeting and marrying Tommy Faris.

“It was like Supergirl meeting Jungle Boy,” Faris laughs.

Tommy is her yang and yang and both are very outdoorsy people. Their days are filled with hiking, biking, kayaking and other activities. And both are determined to face life’s obstacles as challenges.

conscious choice

This life experience combined with her scientific background gives her an understanding of how life does or does not work. Her book series explores the many choices young readers face every day and the value of making conscious decisions, knowing that how they react provides a roadmap for their lives. We aim to educate. Making the right choices will lead them to their desired destination.

Faris understands how emotions override the brain’s ability to make useful decisions, resulting in an instinctive “fight or flight” response. says you can override instincts that have been embedded in your brain since caveman days. You can learn to tell your brain to use the frontal lobe, where complex, conscious decisions are made.

[Gallery not showing? Click here to see photos: arkansasonline.com/829farris/]

She hopes that reading and listening to her stories will help children understand and engage with the power of conscious decision-making. With practice, it can become second nature in children.

Inspired by life’s influences, imaginative students, loyal friends, and family, Faris has developed a uniquely vibrant writing style that creates a humorous yet sensitive approach to dealing with setbacks. hopes that young readers will enjoy reading the characters’ carefree adventures, and that the subtle messages embedded within the stories will inspire inner strength and self-esteem to help them cope with an often chaotic world. is.

“Happy Choice Today!” Available for $12 plus $4 shipping and handling. To order a copy or book a reading, email Faris. [email protected] Or send us a message on Facebook at Patty Faris Books.

Bob Robinson is the author of A Bike Guide to the Mississippi River Trail. “Bicycle Guide to Route 66” and “Bicycle Guide to the Lake Michigan Trail”.

Gallery: Patti Faris

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