‘A Boy Named Pluto’

—Book published by former local, daughter duo


Lakeville, Minn. - Were you shocked, saddened or disappointed in 2006 when it was announced Pluto was no longer classified as a planet? 
Imagine how Pluto himself felt!
That is the story line former Cresco native Jahn Stopperan (son of Carl and Lynette Stopperan) and his daughter, Ashley Gallegos, have managed to explain in an easy-to-understand third-fourth grade reading level book titled “A Boy Named Pluto.”
Stopperan’s wife, the former Sue Ferrie (daughter of locals Jack and Pat Ferrie), suggested the idea to come up with a project that Stopperan and his daughter could do together. 
Ashley is a marketing coordinator at a software company, while her father runs a manufacturing company. Both of them have very creative and inventive minds.
Once a week from March-October 2016, the father and daughter met for 2-3 hours. 
“We’d never written a book before, so we had to learn the process. We started telling the story to each other, and we took turns writing bits of the story back and forth through e-mail,” Stopperan explained.
About half-way through the process, the twosome came across an organization, The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. “We went to a local Minnesota Chapter meeting one evening.” He went on to say they connected with a woman who became an advisor for them.
“We had an ‘Aha!’ moment during the meeting because we realized that when we wrote the book, we didn’t have an ‘end’ reader in mind. We just wrote a story that we liked and we didn’t realize we needed to be sure the story was written for a particular age group.”
Their advisor thought the book was geared for third-fourth grade readers, but some of the terminology and character interaction didn’t fit that age level. 
“We had to change verbiage in some sections and adjust some personalities of characters. We even changed two character names during the process,” Stopperan explained. “We then solicited outside help and input. One of our most valuable contributors was Jan Cray.” Stopperan’s former classmate is a Title 1 reading teacher at Howard-Winneshiek School District. “As a teacher, she helped bring subtle but very important changes to the table.”
For those old enough to relate, “A Boy Named Pluto” reads like a Schoolhouse Rock! segment or, for the younger generation, a Pixar movie.
It follows Pluto and his  friends, each of whom represent planets in the solar system, as they try to influence the outcome of Pluto’s classification in court. The book also brings some lessons on being friends.
At the beginning of the book is a list of characters, with similarities to the planets. At the back of the book are some facts about the planets and solar system, including why the characters look and behave like they do. Stopperan noted, “For instance, Marti (a red-headed young lady representing Mars) is a mountain climber because the tallest mountain in the solar system is on the red planet, Mars.
Just like technology caused the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to reclassify how planets are defined, it has also changed the face of publishing.
“Ten years ago it was expensive to self-publish. You had to buy thousands of copies because the printing required large batch runs to be economical. Now you can print one book at a time if you want.”
The father-daughter pair have decided to self-publish, but are also actively looking for a publisher who serves schools and libraries.
Stopperan commented many authors stay away from self-publishing because they are writers and not commonly skilled or interested in the marketing aspect. “But Ashley and I are marketers, not writers, so we are more inclined to the business side.” That allowed them to use their own resources to find an illustrator and a professional to design the cover.
All-in-all Stopperan has enjoyed the experience of working with his daughter. He and his wife have two other children, an older daughter, who runs one of his businesses and a son with whom he connects with through sports and other things. This project allowed him and Ashley some one-on-one time.
Anyone interested in purchasing “A Boy Named Pluto,”  can do so by going to its website, http://www.aboynamedpluto.com/ or Amazon. By going to the website, a person can receive a personalized note.
{This story was suggested by a reader. If you have a story you would like to see featured, call the Times Plain Dealer at 563-547-3601 and ask for Marcie, or e-mail her at tpdeditor@crescotimes.com]

Cresco Times

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Fax: 563-547-4602

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Cresco, IA 52136

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