Famous Alumni, Deanna Lanning--Mills
Central Davidson High Class of 1990

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School project leads to book being written

Deneesha Edwards/The Dispatch
Deanna Mills (right) smiles with her little cousin, Miriam Melgar, 7, who inspired her to write a book after a classroom project from Miriam's school, Southwood Elementary. ‘Gingerbread Man’s Adventure at Silvertown F.A.R.M’ will be published April 16.

By Deneesha Edwards
The Dispatch
Published: Thursday, March 12, 2009 at 2:57 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 12, 2009 at 3:20 p.m.
A local student's classroom project influenced her cousin to write a book.
As a kindergartner at Southwood Elementary School last year, Miriam Melgar participated in the “Missing Gingerbread Man” project in Meredith Penninger's class.
Students read the book “The Gingerbread Man” and made a gingerbread man who magically disappears when he's placed in the oven. This caused the children to search for him by sending letters to relatives locally and even out of state seeking the whereabouts of the gingerbread man.
“We never found him,” said Miriam, 7, now a first-grader. “It was fun receiving all the letters.”
Penninger said the activity helps students with writing, reading and geography because they view on a map where they're sending letters. At times the relatives even write back, she noted.
“It's fun, and the kids love it,” she said.
In this instance one of the letters Miriam wrote went to her cousin, Deanna Lanning Mills, 36, and gave her inspiration to write a book telling about the adventures the gingerbread man had at her farm in Hollister. After Mills received the letter, Miriam also called on a day Mills' 12 horses broke loose from her farm. Not even thinking twice about it when asked about the gingerbread man, Mills told her little cousin the gingerbread man let out her horses. That's when she decided to write the book.
“The gingerbread man spent a day at the farm and left the gate open,” said Mills.
On April 16, “Gingerbread Man's Adventure at Silvertown F.A.R.M.” will be available. The book is self-published by Publish America in Baltimore.
“I like the story because it has the gingerbread man in it and has a picture of me,” Miriam said.
The book illustrates what the gingerbread man did at Silver Town Family and Animal Recreation Marvel (FARM) in Enfield, which is a nonprofit youth and animal outreach program in the developmental stages, Mills said. It provides vocational and experiential learning dealing with animals, gardens, nature, conservation and preservation by taking in abused horses and rehabilitating them with the children.
The idea for the outreach program comes from Mills' desire to impact a child's life in a positive way.
“We can make a difference in the lives of these children and neglected animals for generations to come,” she said.
The book also has a copy of the letter Miriam wrote as well as a picture of her at 4 years old when she came to the farm for the first time.
Miriam says she goes to the farm as much as she can to ride the horses. There are also sheep, goats and iguanas for her to play with.
Mills has plans to write another book about iguanas and about discussing pedophiles with children.
“I want to open up conversations to talk to children,” she said.
Miriam is the daughter of Jamie and Donny Melgar. She has a 9-year-old brother, Dylan.
Penninger saw a preview of the book and liked it.
“It's really cute,” Penninger said. “I think it's awesome. It's so amazing the author got the idea from a program we incorporate in our school. That's what's so exciting.”
Deneesha Edwards can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 213, or at *****@the-dispatch.com.

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