Karen Rose and Luis visit Molly Stark

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BENNINGTON — Local children's author Karen Rose returned to Molly Stark Elementary School on Tuesday to read her latest book to students, and as always brought one of the characters along.

Each of Rose's three books is based on real stories from her farm, Two Mountain Farm in Shaftsbury. The first, "Pixie and Fenway: Unlikely Friends at Two Mountain Farm," centers around Pixie, a chicken that needs to be brought indoors to be protected from the other chickens that are constantly bullying her, and who eventually becomes fast friends with the housecat, Fenway. The second book, "A Sweet Lemon," features Lemon, a chicken who was born without eyes and moved into the house with Pixel and Fenway. Both Pixie and Lemon have visited Molly Stark in the past.

The newest book in the series, "Lost and Found Friends at Two Mountain Farm," deals with a heavier topic than the previous two books. Fenway and Lemon are left without their best friend after Pixie becomes ill and dies. However, the two are able to come to terms with the loss of their friend and hold her in their hearts as they welcome new friends in Luis the rooster and Minnie the chicken.

"You always remember your friends, even if they're gone," said Rose to the students. She said that when Pixie passed away, she didn't want to write her out of the story, and decided to address the topic in her next book. She said she heard negative reviews from several adults who felt the story was too sad, but kids have reacted very positively. At Molly Stark, the students remembered Pixie, Fenway, and Lemon from Rose's previous readings.

During the readings, mysterious "cock-a-doodle-doo"-like noises kept coming from behind librarian Allyson Hoffman's desk. At first, Hoffman apologized and claimed responsibility for the noises, drawing a giggle from students. Eventually it became clear that Rose had brought along another friend, Luis the rooster. Luis needed to be brought into the farmhouse after he lost an eye in a fight with another rooster.

"Was it over a female?" asked one of the students.

"I don't know, I never asked him!" replied a laughing Rose.

As with her other books, Rose collected the illustrations from illustrations around the state, including two students from Molly Stark, Kyra and Alexis. For the first time, however, the new book features art from children on the other side of the world, with several illustrations being completed by students at the Christian Covenant School in Ghana. "It brings a different flavor," said Rose, who said that the Ghanaian students had a very different artistic style and vision than the American students. Each of the students whose illustrations were chosen received a free copy of the book.

The day was made extra special for students in kindergarten, first, and second grade, who got to take home a free book of their choice after the reading, thanks to the Children's Literacy Foundation's Year of the Book grant.

Derek Carson can be reached at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com, at @DerekCarsonBB on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 122.

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