Sheila’s Murfreesboro Book Signing Article in DAILY NEWS JOURNAL

The author and illustrator of a recently released children’s book have spent the week visiting schools around the county to promote a book signing event.

Murfreesboro resident Norris Hall is the illustrator of Shelia Booth-Alberstadt’s “Maggie McNair has Spiders in her Hair.” Though many students at Cedar Hall School in Christiana hadn’t read the book, they were familiar with the style of artwork, having seen it in local doctor’s offices and hospitals.

“I’ve done so much work I don’t know where most of it is now,” Hall said.

The two connected through a mutual friend who knew Booth-Alberstadt had written a book. He suggested she contact Hall to have him draw the cover of the book, based on the day her daughter, Saxon, got her hair in tangles, known as “spiders,” trying to get a ladybug out of her hair.

“She was 4 years old then. I sent him the picture and he sent back the sketch and I knew that I wanted to work on the Maggie McNair books,” Booth-Alberstadt said.

Over the last two years, Norris and Booth-Alberstadt, an Alabama resident born and raised in Norway, have worked on six other books. Three of them are from the Maggie McNair series, targeted for children ages 2 to 8. The book, the author said, is no longer based on her daughter.

“Maggie’s grown into her own person. Now we’re focusing on hygiene,” she said, adding in the next book, due to be released in January, the character doesn’t like to take baths.

Booth-Alberstadt and Norris both fell in love with their arts as young children. For the author, it was writing a poem about her father’s death that won an award. Norris said his grandmother fed his desire to draw by letting him use her cherished typing paper instead of lined paper he was given for school.

“There’s nothing like pulling out a pencil and just drawing freely. To do an illustration, you have to tighten it up. It took me four months to get Maggie just right,” he said. “I really like to draw Maggie’s hair because it’s wild. That and I don’t have very much of my own.”

The visit was arranged by Beverly Sanford, whose daughter attends the school and heard about Hall’s visit through a friend at another school.

“I went to a convention with him to help him sell some things. His work is in people’s homes and offices in Turkey, Japan, China. People love it,” she said.

Bay Shofner, 9, said he loves to draw and that it was good to witness someone known the world over for his work.

“It was awesome. I want to be an artist, too. I just love to draw,” Shofner said.

Booth-Alberstadt said one of her goals is for the series of books to be developed in to an animated series on PBS.

“You gotta dream big. If you don’t dream, what do you have,” she asked students.

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