Henning second grade teacher reads her latest book about a dog with her students
By Chad Koenen
As she holds up a big white book in front of her second grade classroom, Stephanie Jorgenson carefully reads about a busy dog named Dally. With a group of cows walking through the pasture on a TV screen behind her, Jorgenson asks students if they remember 2021 Henning High School graduate Desta Misegades. The daughter of Steve and Jodi Misegades was one of the inspirations of Jorgenson’s latest book about “Dally the Distracted Cattle Dog.”
Jorgenson shares a few extra stories as she pages through the book with her class at Henning School as the students watch intently from a rug on the floor. She shows the students how the pictures in the book, which were illustrated by a family friend, are drawn from the perspective of the dog. There were also a few stories about her grandparents dog and how Dally was based on a real dog at the Misegades farm in rural Henning.
The idea of writing a children’s book originated with her husband Tanner, who wanted to create a story to share with their children about the importance of hard work.
“Tanner actually had the idea to start writing books,” said Jorgenson of her husband. “He came home one day and said, ‘I have a really fun idea and I think we should do it.’”
He would later write the books “Angus the Anxious Alligator” and “Barry the Bully Beaver” for the Jorgenson’s children.
“We just wanted them to have something that was wholesome and/or work-ethic based,” said Jorgenson. “We wanted to give them an idea that their parents wrote books, of all things to do, and that they could see our names on them and just have something to be proud of us for.”
After writing a pair of books, Jorgenson said her husband passed the writing reigns to her as she penned a third book called “Carson the Clean Crab.”
Sticking with the ABC theme, Jorgenson began writing a book based on a family in rural Henning with a fictional twist. Her plan was to give the book to a friend as a gift.
“It is based on real people and a real place, but the events are fictional,” said Jorgenson. “I wanted her to have something that she could share with her own children some day, based on her family’s legacy that they have grown, and the hard work and cooperation that happens on a ranch. I gave this to her for graduation, and wasn’t really sure where I would go with the next one.”
Less than a month later, Jorgenson was visiting with her grandma, who shared a story about the favorite of all of the dogs she had in her life. The story was combined with a story about Dally for a unique book that included both her grandma’s dog and Dally.
Jorgenson’s goal in creating the books was to have a fun story for kids, but also make it a learning opportunity with things like a glossary.
“I tried to keep these as kid and teacher friendly as possible. When I read books, I often think, ‘boy…there maybe was a little easier way that could have been said, or I wish they would have given me a glossary to show my kids.’”Stephanie Jorgenson
Jorgenson said her husband and family have been her biggest supporters since the first two books were finished. Her editor is retired English teacher Marjorie Quammen. Her illustrator is Jessica Ross, who was a former teacher’s assistant of Jorgenson’s at Fisher School.
The two former coworkers stayed in touch over the years and when Jorgenson needed someone to create some custom artwork for her latest books she reached out to her friend.
After reading a copy of her latest book to her second grade students last week, the dozen or so students in class quickly got up from the carpet near the front of the room, where they heard about the distracted cattle dog, and returned to their seats. Once they got back to their desks, the students were enlisted to help brainstorm for a new book about Dally the dog. The students shared ideas in a brainstorming session as Jorgenson laid the groundwork for a new adventure about the increasingly popular dog.
Their ideas were written down on a large white board near the front of the room as the students attempt to do something many adults could never think of doing—writing a book.
“It has been such a fun journey that I have decided to include my current second grand class in writing and publication of the third Dally book. I wanted them to have something that they can call their own. They can tell their own children some day that they were published authors in the second grade,” said Jorgenson. “We have been brainstorming and conquering our writer’s block with lots of ideas and creative motivation. We have read many books, thought about creating a problem to solve, and breaking down the process of writing. The students have been having a blast.”
Jorgenson’s books can be purchased online on the website www.blurb.com. Individuals can click on the bookstore tab and use the search button to locate “Dally the Distracted Cattle Dog and the Lost Calf” to locate the two books currently for sale.