Falling snow can be a magical thing – beautiful, exciting and ethereal – especially to a child. But for 5-year-old Kiki, who lives in Hawaii, it’s only a dream. Still, she hopes to experience snow for real someday; and a family trip to Michigan may be just what’s needed to make her dream come true.
That’s the premise of the new children’s book, “Kiki’s Dream,” by former Centreville High English teacher Susan Coryell. A picture book for ages 2-7, it was released Nov. 24, just in time for holiday gifting. But equally important, partial proceeds from the book will aid wildfire relief in Maui through the Hawaii Community Foundation.
Coryell began the first two years of her 30-year teaching career in Hawaii at the private school, Hawaii Baptist Academy. And “Kiki’s Dream,” her second picture book, is inspired by her family members who still live in Hawaii and have connections to that school.
“My youngest son and his wife teach there now, and both their daughters attend it,” she said. “I got my idea for ‘Kiki’s Dream’ from my granddaughters in Hawaii who had never seen snow until they went to Michigan for a family visit.” And now, thanks to its publication by Two Sisters Press, Coryell is excited to share her book with everyone, while also helping a worthwhile cause.
She taught in FCPS for 28 years, 11 of them at Centreville. “I began teaching there in 1990, shortly after I published my YA [young adult] novel, ‘EagleBait,’” said Coryell. “Then-Principal Bill Trussell told me he had an opening. and I was delighted to move to high school after teaching 17 years at an intermediate school.”
There, she taught the first class of Transitional English ever offered at Centreville. “It was designed to help the ESL students assimilate with high-school English courses,” she explained. Coryell also began and sponsored the school’s Authors Club and initiated Centreville’s annual Writers Conference. During the full-day event, 100 students who’d submitted their original writings were able to have their work critiqued by published authors in their genres.
“I loved the energy and collegiality of CVHS,” she said. “It was only about four years old when I began teaching there, and it accumulated more honors and victories than many more-established schools in Fairfax County, in areas including sports, music, drama, debate, forensics and art.
“The teachers, support staff and administrators were top-notch professionals and were a joy to work with. The students represented every facet of American life, and the Centreville community supported the school in every possible way. I retired in 2001, and I am still in touch with many of my former students.”
As for “Kiki’s Dream,” it’s available in bookstores or may be ordered online in paperback, hardcover or e-book formats, from both Amazon and Barnes and Noble. “Early orders are crucial to sales in today’s book market,” said Coryell. “So I thank everyone in advance for their support.”