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Book for kids offers food for thought

The Billings County Pioneer of Medora, North Dakota

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MEDORA - "This story is making me hungry," one boy said as Bonell O'Brien read to him and his classmates at DeMores Elementary. "I'm hungry for cantaloupe," another classmate said.

O'Brien, of Belfield, was reading from "Sean Learns the Tummy Town Way," a book intended to "gently coax," as O'Brien described it, children toward healthy eating habits.

The book is intended for children „ from ages 2 to 9.

The book is the result of a five-year project involving O'Brien, with the pen name, Dr. Mom; her brother, J Niswonger, who is a California attorney, under the pen name Uncle J and as the principal author, and her daughter-in-law, Liv Jacobson, a graphic artist in Lincoln, Neb., as the illustrator.

O'Brien said she got the idea for the book while raising her son, Sean, as she encouraged him to eat his fruits and vegetables by creating a mythical village known as Tummy Town. Tummy Town is a colorful place where kids play in an artichoke field, fly apple kites and climb trees that look like broccoli. The kids in Tummy Town need those types of healthy foods to be healthy, happy and full of energy.

"If you don't enough good things, they won't have rides or slides or swings," one page of the book says, referring to the kids in Tummy Town.

The illustrations help tell the story. During a March 7 reading in Medora, O'Brien stopped and talked with the children about the drawings in which they could recognize that a fort is made out of carrots, a watermelon slice is a Frisbee, and a celery stalk is a slide, among several other examples.

Not too common in North Dakota are artichokes, but O'Brien explained she previously lived in California where they were common. Artichokes contain vitamin C and are said to have the highest level of antioxidants of any vegetable. She used a model of an artichoke to show the kids what one looked like.

Artichokes also provide a rhyming word as in: "Mom told Sean the Tummy Town folks play hide and seek in artichokes."

O'Brien said she is pleased with the reception the book has so far received, with it being distributed across the country and in Japan.

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Original Publication Date: March 14, 2013

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