AHS teacher/student collaborate on children’s book

Courtesy Photo Alpena High School teacher Danielle Hoggard, right, recently wrote a children’s book, then asked student Emily Miller, left, to serve as her illustrator.

What started out several years ago as a writing project at Alpena Community College has turned into a published children’s book for Alpena High School teacher Danielle Hoggard.

Although she kept the seed of the story she wrote more than a decade ago during an assignment for a children’s lit class, Hoggard recently decided to expand upon it.

“The plot and the story changed as I became a mother, and it became more detailed,” she said. “I decided to publish the book for a sense of satisfaction.”

Not only did the writing and publishing experience bring her that sense of satisfaction, but she also involved one of her former students, AHS sophomore Emily Miller, as her illustrator.

“Emily was one of my English students,” said Hoggard, who teaches English and specializes in working with children who have learning disabilities. “I saw a drawing she had produced and knew she had artistic abilities. She was very committed to the project.”

The endearing story of “A Hat Just Like That” focuses on several positive themes, including the spirit of giving, the special bond between a grandmother and her young granddaughter, and the importance of generations of family. Hoggard geared her book toward students in kindergarten through fourth grade but she said children of all ages seem to enjoy it.

In “A Hat Just Like That,” a granddaughter named Nicole goes in search of a hat that her grandmother – known for her sense of style – once owned but lost in a huge gust of wind. After Nicole unexpectedly finds the missing hat for sale in an antique store, she buys it back and presents it to her grandmother as a gift on her own birthday.

At the same time, Nicole’s grandmother presents her with a birthday gift of a hat she made to look just like the colorful one she’d lost. Now grandmother and granddaughter have the same hat given to one another out of love and friendship.

Hoggard said she learned a lot during the writing and publishing process.

“Writing a book is such a learning curve – creating authentic verbs to make the story come alive and taking paragraphs, then tearing them apart to create an image,” she said. “That’s where collaboration comes into play.”

As the illustrator, Miller also found the project challenging yet fun to complete.

“The project was not an easy task. It was hard, but fun,” Miller said, adding that her favorite thing was the fact her teacher selected her to illustrate the book. “Due to Mrs. Hoggard choosing me for this project, she has enabled me to have more opportunities for future projects in relation to art.”

Teacher and student spent about nine months meeting every Saturday for an hour or two at Alpena County Library to work on the project.

Now that the book is complete, Hoggard has several book-related events planned during the month of November. These include:

∫ Nov. 11 – Booth with her books at Wishing for Christmas Arts & Crafts Show, 9-4 p.m., APlex

∫ Nov. 19 – Reading and book signing at Blue Phoenix Books, 11 a.m.

∫ Nov. 25 – Reading and book signing at Turn the Page, 1 p.m.

Hoggard is a lifelong resident of Alpena as well as a wife and mother of two children. She graduated from AHS in 2000, received an Associate’s Degree from ACC in 2004 and a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Spring Arbor University in 2007. She earned her Master’s Degree in Special Education in 2016 from Northern Michigan University.

“A Hat Just Like That” is currently available at Blue Phoenix Books and Turn the Page for $10.50 per copy.