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Students in Becky Hughes’ class believe in the fairy.
The book fairy, that is.
Three years ago, students in Hughes’ Meeker first-grade class were treated every month to a visit by the book fairy; otherwise known as Avis Loshbaugh, owner of Avis’ Village Floral.
On Nov. 7, members of Hughes’ class, who are now fourth-graders, joined Hughes and Loshbaugh, the “Real Book Fairy” an ad in the newspaper proclaimed, for a book signing at the Village Floral. The book, “The Book Fairy,” was written by Hughes and her students.
“I had 24 students that year,” Hughes said. “Three of them have moved away, but 19 who are still here showed up (for the book signing).”
The students, who autographed copies of the book right along with their teacher, enjoyed their new celebrity status.
“That was fun,” Hughes said of the book signing event. “One of my students said, ‘Ms. Hughes, I really like being famous.’ It went so well, we may have another book signing before Christmas.”
Having a book published was a first for Hughes and, of course, her students. But it’s something they will always remember, she said.
“Now, when they are filling out their college applications, they can check that box that says they are a published author,” Hughes said.
The project began as a way to thank Loshbaugh for giving the class a book each month and reading it to them.
“It was meant to be a thank-you card,” Hughes said. “The kids just started throwing out ideas. It was a wonderful gift (what Loshbaugh did), and we decided we wanted to thank her. So we wrote a book about how the book fairy got to Meeker.”
Every month during the 2005 school year, a wrapped package would arrive for Hughes’ first-grade class with a book inside.
“Once a month we would get a book all wrapped up,” Hughes said. “It was like unwrapping a gift every month. We would wait until after lunch (to read it) and let the anticipation build. She (Loshbaugh) gave a lot of thought into the kinds of books she chose for us. We wouldn’t open it until Avis got here. And she would be the guest reader. She would sign the book, TBF, for the book fairy. She is the book fairy.”
When Hughes was at a master’s degree program that summer, some of her colleagues heard about the idea and suggested she have the students’ story published.
“They thought it was worth printing,” Hughes said.
Hughes, who paid for the printing, found a publisher for the book.
“It’s not something you can do every year,” Hughes said.
Loshbaugh was surprised to learn the students’ story was going to become a book.
“I didn’t know she (Hughes) was going to send it off,” Loshbaugh said. “The kids had a blast. They just made it up (the story) as they went along. It was a rewarding experience to work with young people. They are so excited about everything. “
Loshbaugh, who sells books at her downtown store, is big believer in reading.
“I think reading is important,” Loshbaugh said. “There needs to be a way to show them (kids) how much fun reading can be.”
Hughes’ first-grade students had looked forward to Loshbaugh’s monthly reading visits.
“She (Hughes) would tell them the TBF is coming,” Loshbaugh said. “They would be so excited.”
Loshbaugh dressed the part of the book fairy for the book signing.
“One of the students asked, ‘Where are your wings?’ I told him I don’t have them on during the day,” Loshbaugh said.
Hughes, who has been teaching for 17 years, all in Meeker, said the book is also available at a bookstore in Steamboat Springs, as well as at Avis’ store. In addition, Hughes has an aunt who donated a copy to a school library in Glenwood Springs.
“I would absolutely do it again,” Hughes said of the whole experience. “I had no idea what I was doing, but it was definitely worth it.”
For the students, who are now three years older, Hughes said the book signing brought them closer together again.
“It was like we’ve re-bonded again,” she said. “I remember the day the books arrived (in September). We were outside at recess when the UPS man brought the books. It was so exciting. The girls were hugging each other.”
Loshbaugh was thrilled, too.
“She was excited when I told her about the book,” Hughes said.
The book signing not only gave the students a chance to re-connect with their first-grade teacher, but it also revealed the person who inspired the book.
“We could tell people the book fairy will actually be there,” Hughes said.
Or, as Loshbaugh said, “Yes, I’m the book fairy.”