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"An extension of what I love" — Perham author keeps her children's book local

Perham local Darla Medeck-Johnson published her first children's book, "Dewdrops to Raindrops" in 2021.

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Perham children's author, Darla Medeck-Johnson, reads her book, "Dewdrops to Raindrops" to an audience of kids at the Willow Bookstore.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus
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PERHAM — Some childhood dreams are meant to come true.
Perham author Darla Medeck-Johnson made sure that hers would, when she wrote the very first sentence of her children's picture book, "Dewdrops to Raindrops."

Published in 2021, this book is now complete, and Medeck-Johnson took some time to read it to an audience at the Willow Bookstore during Turtle Fest.

"Reading to kids is something that (my husband and I) did as parents," she said, when asked why reading stories to children is important. "And now as grandparents, we read to the kids all the time. It really helps to teach them words and how to read — which is definitely a life skill."

Medeck-Johnson's love for reading, teaching, and science all played a role in the idea that later became "Dewdrops to Raindrops." It follows Sappy, a little red oak sapling who's very thirsty. Along the way, Sappy meets a new friend, a little dew drop, who teaches Sappy about nature and helps him get a drink of water.

While this book teaches kids how plants grow, Medeck-Johnson also wanted to incorporate lessons about relationships and social situations through a fun story. At one point, Sappy gets upset with his new dew drop friend, but he works through the emotional conflict alongside the readers. The book's illustrations also incorporate different ways Sappy stands in correlation with his emotions, so kids can also learn about body language.

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"My illustrator and I, my daughter-in-law Kassie Pesch-Johnson, we took and incorporated some positions of Sappy when he gets upset and when he's sad and droopy," Medeck-Johnson explained as she pointed out a drawing of upset Sappy, his leaves appearing to be angry hands on his hips. "So that hopefully will also create the opportunity for kids to be observant and to look and say, 'Oh, he looks sad,' just by looking and not having a frowny face or a tear or anything like that."

That's not the only way Medeck-Johnson and Pesch-Johnson worked together to incorporate ways for kids to improve their observational skills in a fun way. In the back of the book, there is spread of animal illustrations, each labeled with names. These animals can be found all throughout the book's illustrations. That way, when kids revisit the story, they can look through the pictures and find the animals.

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A group of kids listen to Darla Medeck-Johnson read her book, "Dewdrops to Raindrops" at the Willow Bookstore.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus

"I love science, biology. I love being outdoors. I love exploring. I love learning," Medeck-Johnson shared. "And so all of those things made me want to bring in an education component into ('Dewdrops to Raindrops')."

She has also always had a love for teaching, and — as a master gardener — she adores nature and plants. Everything about her book is a passion project. On top of all her love for science and education, she's also wanted to be an author since she was a child herself.

"('Dewdrops to Raindrops') is just an extension of what I love to do and what I have to share," Medeck-Johnson explained. "(Sharing this story) is awesome. I love it. I can't even describe what it's like to finally hold a book in my hand that I thought about for a lot of years."

"Dewdrops to Raindrops" may be her first book, but it likely won't be her last. She has a few other stories up her sleeve, and she's currently working on a sequel to Sappy's adventures, with a second book set in the fall. Those who attended her book reading during Turtle Fest even got to hear a little sneak peak, as she read the beginning of her manuscript out loud.

As a local author, she likes to keep the sales of her book local as well. "Dewdrops to Raindrops" won't be found on Amazon, and that's because Medeck-Johnson wants to support local bookstores and the local economy.

"My husband and I are very community-oriented," she explained. "So that's really one of the driving forces behind it. Plus I needed personally to see (the publication) through to completion myself and not let someone else make decisions about the book that I have no control over."

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"Dewdrops to Raindrops" can be found at the Willow Bookstore on Perham's Main Street and other local book shops. It can also be purchased at Medeck-Johnson's site, dmjohnsonauthor.net . If any teachers are interested in her visiting for a guest reading, she also encourages them to go to her site.

"Support local businesses, and shop local," Medeck-Johnson encouraged the Perham-area community. "I think that's so important — supporting local bookstores."

For more information on her upcoming books, you can follow her website's blog, or find her on Instagram @dmjohnsonauthor and Facebook @darlamedeckjohnsonauthor .

Elizabeth (she/her), 23, graduated with a degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of Wisconsin–Stout in 2020. Elizabeth has always had a passion for telling stories about people and specializes in community features, which she uses for her Perham-centered content.
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