By Melissa Klaric
Herald Staff Writer
Are you smarter than a fifth-grader? How about a published fifth-grade author?
A mother and son team, Susan and Max Tiber, of Sharpsville, wrote a book together that was inspired by a fifth-grade English project.
“Awesome Animals Rock the Holidays!” is the first book published by the newly formed Mother of Pearl Press, LLC, with Susan Tiber as publisher.
Max made his first appearance at Leana’s Books and More in the Shenango Valley Mall, Hermitage, for a book reading and signing Nov. 2. He was one of five local authors appearing.
Susan said students of all ages as well as adults were interested in Max’s notebook with his original work for the assignment, which is what started the process of getting the book ready to be published.
Susan said people marveled over the fact that Max does not really enjoy writing and he is just a regular kid.
“It just shows your dreams are limitless,” Susan said.
The inspiration behind the idea for the book, Susan said, is Max’s fifth-grade language arts teacher at Sharpsville Middle School, Lisa Oliver.
“Max had never really liked writing assignments,” Susan said. “Lisa found really creative ways of getting kids interested in it throughout the school year.”
Oliver’s alliteration project – using each letter of the alphabet to form an idea – allowed Max to choose a topic he loves, science.
“She brought him out of his writing shell and I just love her for that,” Susan said. “This is the result of what a great teacher can do.”
“The assignment was more like a treasure hunt. Max chose animals,” Susan said. “He did all the brainstorming and I guided him.”
When the assignment was praised by family members, Susan said she focused her attention to turning Max’s idea into a book.
Her friend, Cynthia J. Graeff, the illustrator of the book, used Max’s primitive drawings and enhanced them.
Susan Tiber’s passion is educating children. A long-time dream of hers is to become an author of children’s books.
The name of her publishing company, Mother of Pearl Press, LLC, was named in homage to her mother, who passed away last year.
“I have really felt her presence and guidance through this,” Susan said.
Susan is in the midst of a project of her own, writing a series of children’s books.
The money made from “Awesome Animals” will be used to start a college fund for Max, Susan said.
In the near future, Max may be making appearances at Barking Dog Books, Marietta, Ohio; and the Carnegie Musem of Natural History and Pittsburgh Children’s Museum. Max and Susan may be accompanied by Graeff.
For more information and to buy Max’s holiday book, visit www.motherofpearlpressllc.com