Jul. 25—Anna Brown said the message of her new children's book is to be kind and to look out for one another.
Brown said she first wrote her book "Gerald the Guard Donkey" six years ago after she got attached to the donkey on her now-husband's ranch in Ardmore.
"So of course, I named him and tried to become friends with him," Brown said with a laugh. "He really wasn't having it. But he's fun. He is kind of a mysterious animal."
The McAlester High School graduate and former Miss McAlester said she thought the use of a guard donkey was a "one-off thing" before learning it is a somewhat common practice with ranchers in different parts of the United States.
Brown said she then began to write a fun "quirky little rhyme" about Gerald and what he does on Brown Ranch.
"And that's how it came about," Brown said. "I sat on it for years thinking one day I'll publish it or do something."
After writing the story, Brown said she first teamed up with her mother, Katrina Prichard, for the illustrations before her grandmother fell ill and her mother became the primary caretaker.
Brown said her mother suggested she team up with her uncle, David Prichard, for the illustrations.
The author said her uncle had never drawn a cow, a buzzard, or a donkey before he was asked to help with the illustrations.
"He was up for the challenge," Brown said. "And I'm thankful because the story wouldn't be what it is without the pictures."
She said she wanted the book to hone in on the fact Gerald is the only one in the herd that looks different with his grey color sticking out in the herd of red and black cattle.
"But although he is different than everybody, he still is protecting the herd and keeps them safe," Brown said. "And he doesn't see the difference. And so, I thought, what a great message."
Brown said the message she hopes to teach the children who read her book is that there is diversity in the world, and we should look out for one another and do nice things for people even if they are different.
"It's just a whole rhyming tale of Gerald protecting his friends from the dangers that lurk in the pasture," Brown said. "Of course, there is a happy ending."
The book is dedicated to Brown's two children, Lane and Langley, and she again gave thanks to her mother because Brown knows it took a lot for her mother to step aside from the project.
"I think that would be hard to do," Brown said. "But she was able to put her wants and pride aside to let me pursue my dreams, even if she wasn't directly involved. I wouldn't have done that without her."
"Gerald the Guard Donkey" is available for purchase from www.annabrownbooks.com with copies available for purchase from Roseanna's Italian Food in Krebs and at The Bookseller in Ardmore.