‘The Mirror and Me’

Published 8:36 pm Saturday, January 7, 2017

Suffolk man publishes children’s book


When his grandson, Jonathon “Cord” Pope, was a Kilby Shores Elementary School third-grader, Morgan Wilson wrote him an inspirational poem about growing up.

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Now 20 years later, Wilson, a retired elementary school gym teacher from Isle of Wight County Schools, is rejuvenating Cord’s poem for a new generation of children.

At the urging of friend and Suffolk Literacy Council board member Gin Staylor, Wilson – who has written poetry and short stories for more than 40 years – has published the poem as a children’s book, “The Mirror and Me.”

“It’s the first time I’ve ever published anything,” Wilson said. “It’s a story that’s meant to lift kids up and help give them confidence.”

“The Mirror and Me” is a poem about a young boy who marches to a different beat, said Staylor, comparing both Wilson’s writing style and message to that of the late children’s writer Shel Silverstein, author of “The Giving Tree.”

“Children that don’t always fit the mold and late bloomers that don’t get things perfect the first time … are near and dear to my heart,” said Staylor, technical assistant for Virginia Quality, which works to improve childcare and early education in Hampton Roads.

“As you move through the story, you see it’s all about continuing to try and do your best. When I read it, I thought it had an awesome message that lent itself to being a children’s book. And I knew just the illustrator with the right style.”

The perfect illustrator was Staylor’s daughter, Ginny S. Krueger, a preschool teacher in Richmond for the past three years and a lifelong artist. When she began work on the project last April, one of her sons, Owen, was the same age — and, ironically, similar in appearance — to Cord at the time Wilson penned the poem.

“A lot of this felt like fate, things that were meant to be,” said Krueger, who used her children as models for the realistic, yet whimsical, characters that grace the pages of “The Mirror and Me.”

When it came to publishing an original book, both Wilson and Krueger were traveling in uncharted waters.

“Ginny did an amazing job,” Wilson said, noting Krueger’s success at carrying over the character’s expressions as the reader flips the pages of the book.

“We had a good creative partnership … and I think my style of drawing and painting fit the vision he had in mind,” Krueger said. But it took the input from a third Suffolk person — Nansemond-Suffolk Academy teacher Susannah Donahue, also a freelance graphic designer —to pull the project together and prepare it for printing by Amazon.

Although he is a member of a local writers group and welcomes opportunities to share his work with friends, Wilson said he had never seriously considered publishing a book. Mostly, Wilson says he writes because he has always found it to be a creative, satisfying outlet for artistic expression. He has also had five years of professional operatic training and is an active member of Main Street United Methodist Church’s choir, where he co-wrote a hymn called “Sounds of Joy” with organist Christine B. Ward last year.

The book will be sold at Sweet Frog, 1217 N. Main St., Suffolk, and will be available on Amazon by the end of the month. Copies will also be available at NSA’s annual Art Show and Sale that begins Jan. 28 or by email, sandrawilson@charter.net.