Donna Ferguson and her husband walk on the York County Heritage Rail Trail every day when the weather is good. For a while, just south of her home in York Township, Ferguson met up with a friend, as well: a gray-and-white kitten that appeared to be homeless.
“He would come up to me and wanted to be petted, wanted attention,” Ferguson said. “He would meow like he was talking to me.”
Her interactions with the kitten inspired Ferguson to write a children’s book about his search for a home. “Rail Trail Kitten” was published through CreateSpace, Amazon’s self-publishing arm, in April.
As a former preschool and grade school teacher, Ferguson incorporated colors and repetition as the homeless kitten goes from animal to animal seeking shelter. In the end, he is taken in by “chubby cheeked Alexa,” a young girl riding her bike on the trail — a character based on one of Ferguson’s great-granddaughters.
“There’s that social aspect, that the cat didn’t give up,” she said. “He was very persistent, he found someone who was kind to him who would take him home.”
When it came time to consider illustrations, Ferguson tackled them herself, using watercolor crayons and pencils. Despite taking community art lessons, she said she’d never really done anything similar to illustrating a book.
“That was fun,” she said. “That was the part I enjoyed the most.”
“As a teacher, I did a lot of story times,” she said. “So it’s bringing back that interaction and I’m enjoying it.”
The book also has cross appeal, said Year of the Book organizer and Paul Smith director Demi Stevens, perhaps for for younger children who might not be able to read it themselves.
“It would be easy to talk with a child about the different animals that appear within the storyline of the book,” Stevens said.
“Rail Trail Kitten” is available at the Richard M. Nixon County Park Nature Center, Perrydell Farm, the York County SPCA, Miller’s Plant Farm, Rubee Z Salon & Day Spa in Dallastown, Irvin’s Books, Steam Into History and online at amazon.com.
If you go
What: Story time with Donna Ferguson
When: 11 a.m. July 23
Where: Irvin’s Books, 2159 White St., West Manchester Township
Details: Call Irvin’s at 717-843-2947 for details