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Photo by Art Aisner

Ruth McNally Barshaw always keeps a sketch pad handy to keep track of new ideas.


Author inspires kids’ creativity at local event Ruth McNally Barshaw visits local library By Art Aisner Heritage Newspapers

Ruth McNally Barshaw hates to limit children’s creativity in any way. So in every appearance at schools and libraries across the state, the author of the popular “Ellie McDoodle” series abandons the rules. Kids are encouraged to sit on the floor, bark out ideas, and even scribble down their thoughts while she’s talking. In fact, the only rule her audiences must abide by is to pick up a pencil and sheet of paper at the door and keep it nearby during her hourlong presentation. After a brief introduction, her first task at a special appearance in Pittsfield Township last week was to have participants create their own artificially bound sketch book out of a single sheet of paper. “Always have a sketch pad with you and keep it nearby,” she implored the captivated audience of roughly 40 children at the Ann Arbor District Library’s Pittsfield Township Branch. “There are a lot of people that have great ideas and never write them down. Don’t be one of those people.” It’s a philosophy that has served her well over the years. Starting at age 6, McNally Barshaw started carrying a sketch pad and documented events in her life as they happened. Before long, the sketchpad became the key to channeling her imagination, and no page was wasted. She filled dozens over the years and

takes a thick stack of them to her presentations to show children that inspiration can come anywhere at any time. Though it started as a hobby, sketching quickly became somewhat an obsession and led to what she believes is her true calling in life, penning children’s books. But that only came after toiling for years in the advertising field, illustrating for newspapers and participating in national essaywriting contests, six of which she won. “Sometimes you grow up thinking you’ll be something, and you’ll end up being something else, and that’s cool because it’s all about the discovery and learning new things,” McNally Barshaw said. “I’m still trying very hard to learn something else.” One task she has mastered is getting her message out to kids with an affinity for writing drawing. Combining her easygoing demeanor and infectious enthusiasm, McNally Barshaw engages audiences ranging from toddler age to pre-teens and gets them to feel comfortable expressing themselves. With a black marker and easel, McNally Barshaw showed her creative process by drawing some of her favorite characters. By having the children sketch along, she gave audience members a blueprint to follow in order to be creative with confidence. It’s part of how she promotes art literacy, a notion that drawing ideas first enhances a person’s creativity and writing ability. The process helped her create two books: “Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel” and “Ellie McDoodle: New Kid

in School.” The stories capture the adventures of Ellie McDoodle, a sketch-obsessed school girl and her family. “I was reading books to my kids and thought that Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss had done all the books I’d wanted to do, and did them much better,” said McNally Barshaw, who grew up in the Detroit area and now lives in Lansing. “But I thought there could be room for me if I really worked hard enough.” McNally Barshaw had both hard and soft cover editions of her books on display and offered a preview of her next book in the series “Ellie McDoodle: Best Friend Furever” which is due out in August. The new book features the usual fun-filled characters, plus a few of their new animal friends. She said she’s also working on a novel. “It’s very exciting for us to have her here,” said Ieva Bates, the youth services librarian at the Pittsfield Township branch. “She’s an accomplished writer and we knew that the Ann Arbor Schools students would be on break and would get a chance to enjoy something like this.” The enthusiasm and inspiration that McNally Barshaw stirred was obvious, said Laura Stubbs, who brought her 8- and 6-year-old sons to see a professional illustrator and writer for the first time. “They are all about this kind of thing and really loved it,” she said. For more information about the series or McNally Barshaw’s other works and presentation schedule visit www.

Allegra Print & Imaging, employees earn awards Allegra Print & Imaging of Saline recently received the International Gold, Silver and Top Ten International Sales Performer awards from the Allegra Network franchise system. The awards are presented annually and are based on sales volume and providing an outstanding level of client service. “Our commitment to providing printing solutions and outstanding service has earned the respect of our clients,” said Joe DiMauro, general manager of Allegra Print & Imaging of Saline, in a news release. “Our sales staff exemplifies the true service professional.”

Kelly Parkinson received the International Gold Milestone and Top Ten International Sales Performer awards. Parkinson, a resident of Pinckney, joined Allegra 18 years ago and has completed several training programs that address topics ranging from mastering customer service and new marketing and digital printing techniques to better understanding the needs of today’s print buyers. Many of the programs focus on determining each client’s printing needs and formulating a solution to enhance the client’s print communications and reduce overall printing

costs, the release states. Jane Dillard, Michael LaBeau and Wes Siegrist received the International Silver Milestone awards. Dillard, a resident of Ann Arbor, has been with Allegra for 20 years. LaBeau, a resident of Manchester, joined Allegra 15 years ago. Siegrist, a resident of Jackson, has been connected with Allegra for five years. Allegra Print & Imaging of Saline provides a range of marketing services for area businesses including printing, mailing services, fulfillment, promotional products and graphic design.

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on single-receipt purchases of $299 or more on your Lowe’s Consumer Credit Card. Interest will be charged to your account from the purchase date if the promotional balance is not paid in full within 6 months. Minimum monthly payments required. See below for details.

Visit CashforAppliances to get the latest facts about the government appliance rebate program. @Cash for Appliances Government Rebate available to Michigan state residents and is valid until program funds are depleted. For qualifying items, requirements, to register, to confirm funding eligibility and availability, and any additional restrictions, please visit *CREDIT FINANCING PROMOTION DETAILS: Applies to a single-receipt purchase of $299 or more made on a Lowe’s Consumer Credit Card account. Cannot be combined with other credit related promotional offers. No finance charges will be assessed on this promotional purchase if you pay the following (“promotional balance”) in full within 6 months: (1) the promotional purchase amount, and (2) any related optional credit insurance/debt cancellation charges. If you do not, finance charges will be assessed on the promotional purchase from the date of the purchase. Minimum monthly payments are required. Regular account terms apply to non-promotional purchases and, after promotion ends, to promotional purchases. Standard purchase APR is 22.99%. Penalty APR is 26.99%. Minimum finance charge is $1.00. Existing cardholders should see their credit card agreement for their applicable terms. Offer is subject to credit approval. Excludes Lowe’s® Business Credit Accounts, Lowe’s Project CardSM Accounts, Lowe’s Visa® Accounts, and all Lowe’s Canada Credit Accounts. (6812-MI) 001/6812/062,064,139


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