ISD Young Author Series features Mark Newman

Sooper Yooper book author Mark Newman interacts with kindergarten students during the Manistee ISD Young Authors program on Thursday.

Sooper Yooper book author Mark Newman interacts with kindergarten students during the Manistee ISD Young Authors program on Thursday.

MANISTEE — Keeping the attention span of 30 kindergarten students for an hour is a rare gift.

Being able to keep them focused, learning and laughing in the process is something that is almost unheard of. However, that is exactly what author Mark Newman did Thursday morning with the Manistee Intermediate School District’s Young Author series program.

Newman is the author of the Sooper Yooper children’s environmental book series. To commemorate March being reading month he visited with students from Manistee County to explain how he became an author and the importance of reading.

Manistee Intermediate School District consultant Dency Lippert said the long running program has been a popular one with area children.

“Mark will talk with the students about how he got started and the process of writing,” said Lippert. “He will talk about why what he writes about is important to him, as his books focus on the environment.”

Lippert said that throughout the morning, Newman did three different presentations.

“We have three groups coming in as kindergarten is first and then the second and third grade and finally the fourth, fifth and sixth grade students,” she said. “He will do things a little different for each group.”

One of the many activities county students take part in during Reading Month is the Bare Books program, where they create their own book on a blank page book that is provided by the ISD. Teachers select their best young authors to represent their class in the Young Author series.

“It is really nice for them to see an adult who is a real author, and to learn how they became one,” said Lippert. “It’s just a great program that has been going on for a number of years and we are glad to offer it to our students.”

Newman told the students that he started as newspaper sports writer, covering college and professional teams. It was through that work that he met photographer/artist Mark Heckman. The pair agreed to team up to tell the story of Billy Cooper, an environmental superhero who does everything in his power to safeguard the Great Lakes from his headquarters in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Their book, “Sooper Yooper: Environmental Defender” was written to educate and entertain kids about the importance of protecting natural resources. The message they continually try to project in their work is when it comes to the environment, everyone can be a superhero.

The first book went so well that Newman has published a sequel, “Sooper Yooper: The Quest of the Blue Crew,” to address growing environmental concerns. It contains the same characters of Billy Cooper and his faithful dog Mighty Mac.

Newman told the students the reasons he writes the Sooper Yooper series is to educate them. He said there presently are 180 invasive species in the Great Lakes causing problems.

“Someday when you are big, you are going to have to protect the lakes for the rest of us,” he said. “We don’t want the Great Lakes to become the Not so Great Lakes. You guys have to guard the Great Lakes, and that is why I wrote the two Sooper Yooper books.”

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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