I sent a news release to my home town newspaper in Michigan – the Ionia Sentinel Standard. The reporter called me for an interview, and then wrote the following article.
IONIA — A former Ionia resident turned his experiences growing on a farm north of M-66 into another children’s rhyming story picture book — this time about a ladybug.
Bob Hicks, who is a member of the Ionia High School Class of 1954, published “The Ladybug Known as Lil” on Oct. 12 — his fourth rhyming children’s book. It was inspired by Hicks’ memory of growing up on his grandfather’s farm four miles north of Ionia on M-66.
“That was a big influence in my rhyming stories because I was inspired to start writing the stories about my experiences with the critters when I was a kid on the farm,” Hicks said. “I had a pet crow, a pet raccoon and a pony, and just watching bugs and frogs in the backyard lily pool — those were inspirations. Remembering those inspired me to write rhyming stories about those experiences.”
When Hicks was 9, he remembers helping his parents plant a garden and his mother telling him to not harm the ladybugs because they would protect the plants from aphids.
“The Ladybug Known As Lil” tells a tale of the wild west as aphids invade the garden. Lil, singer at the Pumpkin Club, rides her roach through the night to find Bugaroo, sheriff of the garden, to save Pumpkin town from the Aphid Gang.
Hicks’ award-winning books are available on major online booksellers, and are endorsed by the American Dyslexia Association for easier reading by early readers.
“I want the rhyming to be perfect, because that helps kids to make the ear-brain connection for distinguishing sounds and learning to read,” Hicks said.
Hicks added a question and answer section to his books to turn them into a teaching tool. Hicks is a retired college teacher — having taught speech communication for 24 years at the University of Hawaii. A special “Things to Learn” section has photos and information about the real insects that are characters in the story.
Hicks said he was an average student his first two years at Ionia High School, but missed a year after becoming paralyzed.
“Because I had matured more and because I was in a wheelchair, I couldn’t get out and do things,” he said. “I spent more time studying and started getting good grades for a change.”
Hicks couldn’t get a physical job because he was limited in what he could do, so he decided to stay in school. He chose education as his profession.
“I think education is extremely important,” Hicks said. “I would tell kids to stay in school as long as you can and learn as many things as you can. The more you know, the more options you have, and the more choices you have for your life.”
Kim Grant, Hicks’ nephew, lives on the family farm north of Ionia, and has donated the Ladybug book to the Ionia Community Library.
Hicks has published three other rhyming children’s books: “Tommie Turtle’s Secret,” “Mouse in the Manger” and “Danny the Dragon.” He also has an e-book titled, “Once I Was A Kid With the Wild Things On the Farm.” He has started working on a his fifth, about Katie Caterpillar.
“The caterpillar book is just in the beginning stages,” Hicks said. “I’ve only got a couple of stanzas. We’ll see how fast it comes.
Hicks and his wife, Betty, reside in Florida. They may be contacted through Bob Hicks’ website: robertzhicks.com.
— Contact reporter Evan Sasiela at email@example.com.