top shadow image

News Story - Herald & Review

Books, naturally: Argenta-Oreana re-creates camping experience to inspire students

By VALERIE WELLS - H&R Staff Writer | Posted: Friday, April 15, 2011 12:01 am

OREANA - The Bomber Gym was decked out with tents, an electric campfire, pine trees and even stars in the sky, thanks to some leftover Christmas decorations. If you listened closely, you could even hear owls hooting.

Parents and kids collected flashlights at the door and climbed into tents for some cozy reading time.

"There's nothing like having someone read a book to you," said Sue Fustin, Argenta-Oreana Elementary School principal.

HeatherReads1The school holds a twice-a-year book fair and reading event, and the staff always tries to do something new. Teachers stayed after school Thursday to set up the mock camping area.

In the other gym, the book fair drew a sizable crowd of parents and students, browsing through the books and meeting the authors who were on hand to autograph their works, including one of their very own teachers, Heather Champion.

Champion's book, "Monsters Don't Read," started off as a class assignment when she was a student at Millikin University.

"I tried to make it something my daughter would enjoy reading," said Champion, who teaches second grade. "Once it was done, my friends said, 'You should take it and get it published.' "

She submitted it to Bronze Man Books, the publisher at Millikin, and it was accepted. Champion's students and the rest of the school's second-graders got the first copies, thanks to the Kacey Dearbort Memorial Book Foundation. Kacey was a kindergarten student at the school who died a few years ago, and her grandmother, teacher Jackie Goeppinger, started the foundation to celebrate Kacey's love of books. In the year the foundation has been active, they've given children more than 2,000 books, including 600 given Thursday to Argenta-Oreana students.

Champion read her book to a group of enthralled students at the book fair.

Next to Champion was D. Ann Johnson, whose daughter is also a teacher at the school, with her new book, "The Labor Day Love Affair Murder." The book is the style of murder mystery known as a "cozy" - no blood or gore, just a good old-fashioned mystery with an amateur sleuth who is a retired teacher, like the author. It's the first of a series of such books by Johnson, each tied to a month and beginning with Labor Day because it's in September.

"A teacher's year begins in September," Johnson said with a chuckle.

The book is available at and at, and she's hoping to have it available in local stores soon.|421-7982

Reprinted on the web site with permission by Herald & Review.


bottom shadow image

small bmb logoBronze Man Books
Millikin University
1184 W. Main St.
Decatur, Illinois 62522

© 2014 Bronze Man Books • A Millikin University Press •