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Sonoma’s Kid Scoop enterprise expands with book contract

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All in the family

Vicki Whiting’s husband, Jim Silverman, is the author of a 2017 book called ‘On This Day in California History’ which has a historical moment in California history for each day of the year.

Vicki Whiting has come full circle in more ways than one. The former teacher’s nearly 35-year career as editor of the children’s newspaper “Kid Scoop” started after students in her third grade class were disappointed there were no books in their school library about their local Sonoma community. Newspapers provided the answer to that conundrum.

The second full circle moment is that, in September of this year, publisher Chapel Fox out of Mt. Joy, Pennsylvania, published not one but two books by Whiting and her illustrator Jeff Schinkel: “Mind-Boggling Animal Puzzles” and “A Kid’s Guide to Drawing Animals.”

These books have started to find their way to schools and libraries across the country, perhaps alongside classroom “Kid Scoop” puzzles, graphics and “how-to’s” which can currently be found in more than 400 Bay Area schools.

Whiting taught at St. Francis Solano School in Sonoma for seven years. As can sometimes be the case, getting younger students to develop a passion for reading proved a challenge. Thus “Kid Scoop” was born: a weekly that features games, puzzles, drawing lessons and many other ways to engage children not only in reading and critical thinking.

Illustrator Schinkel joined her in 1999.He says he saw the opportunity at “Kid Scoop” as “a merging of all the things I’m passionate about” which includes cartooning and sparking an interest in reading and community activism, something he says he strove to instill in his own children.

Schinkel says that “as a kid, I was always drawing” which eventually led to a career in marketing. He was doing marketing work through illustration aimed at young people at the Oakland Tribune, which is how he crossed paths with Whiting. “I really liked cartooning and always dreamed I could do it full time and Vicki gave me that opportunity.” In fact, Schinkel and Whiting celebrated the anniversary of their 20 years in business together this November, another full circle moment realized.

Both “Mind-Boggling Animal Puzzles” and “A Kid’s Guide to Drawing Animals” are culled from the deep archive of “Kid Scoop” materials and Fox Chapel was excited to put out the work. “Our core value has always been to help children learn by doing,” said David Miller, of Happy Fox Books, a children’s book imprint of Fox Chapel.

He notes how the “Kid Scoop” material “falls right in line with this important mission. Whether it’s through seek-and-find activities, educational fun facts or drawing lessons, our main goal is to provide children with the tools they need to learn while having fun.”

Although Whiting’s teaching career was somewhat short, she says she still sees some of her former students in and around Sonoma and many of them now have children of their own. She also credits the generosity of Sonoma residents in terms of helping get “Kid Scoop” into every school in the Sonoma Valley by underwriting the materials.

“Kid Scoop” is “free to schools if there’s an underwriter” Whiting explains. The other stipulation toward receiving “Kid Scoop” is having teachers complete a survey related to the materials at the end of the year as well as having student sign a thank-you note for their underwriter.

In addition to from the Fox Chapel website, “Mind-Boggling Animal Puzzles” and “A Kid’s Guide to Drawing Animals” are available at Readers’ Books in Sonoma and Copperfield’s in the North Bay, as well as at online vendors.

Three more books are scheduled to be released next fall.

All in the family

Vicki Whiting’s husband, Jim Silverman, is the author of a 2017 book called ‘On This Day in California History’ which has a historical moment in California history for each day of the year.

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