Md. woman’s charming tale becomes book, song

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — Lois Noffsinger Spurrier never intended to publish “Ming and The Magic Kite.”

In fact, she’d forgotten she wrote it. It wasn’t until she was preparing to move from her Frederick home that she discovered a printed version of the story and decided to look into publishing it.

“It was a fluke,” Noffsinger Spurrier said.

She wrote the story years ago when she taught kindergarten. She had trouble finding the right book to read to her students during their Chinese New Year unit, so Noffsinger Spurrier decided to write her own.

“Ming and The Magic Kite” is the story of a disabled boy who learns to embrace his uniqueness. Ming longs to join the men of the village on their fishing trips, but because he cannot walk easily, he must stay home and help the women with housework.

Ming gets an opportunity to pursue his dream of fishing when a soldier of the Emperor comes to town and announces an imperial kite contest, with the prize of a large and beautiful fishing boat.

The book also includes an original song.

At 72, Noffsinger Spurrier is a teaching veteran. She began teaching kindergarten in 1964 and still teaches today, leading music classes for 3- and 4-year-olds at Good Shepherd Preschool. And it’s that experience with children that makes her book stand out from other children’s books on the market, said book illustrator and professional artist Rebecca Pearl.

“The books are written on their level,” said Pearl. “It’s not an adult trying to project something.”

The pair met at a Kiwanis meeting about a year and a half ago and instantly connected. This spring Noffsinger Spurrier approached Pearl with her story, as well as several others Noffsinger Spurrier had written over the years, and asked if she would illustrate the writings.

It was Pearl who arranged to have the book published. She had worked with Historical Publishing Network, a Houston-based publisher that used Pearl’s work in several books, and called in a favor for her friend through the company’s on-demand publishing service.

The on-demand service means that the pair orders the books in small batches as needed and decide themselves where they decided to sell their books. Pearl and Noffsinger Spurrier are still working with bookstores to market and sell the book. For now, interested customers will need to attend a book signing to obtain a copy.

Noffsinger Spurrier plans to donate the book’s proceeds to the Frederick Woman’s Civic Club.

But although the book isn’t widely available yet, “Ming and The Magic Kite” is already attracting attention.

The book caught the attention of Elizabeth Chung, the executive director of the Asian American Center of Frederick. Noffsinger’s kite song was translated into Chinese and children in the center’s STARTALK cultural program sang it at the Chinese Embassy on June 26, said program site director Robin Maliszewskyj.

In total, Noffsinger Spurrier plans to publish at least 12 books, each with Pearl’s art and an original song. Some will be vignettes based on characters and events in her own life and family history, while others will focus on the city of Frederick, like “A Child’s Eye View of Frederick City.”

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Information from: The Frederick (Md.) News-Post, http://www.fredericknewspost.com

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