Lori Degman might not be a household name yet. But this month,
her face will grace the boxes of Cheerios you bring home to the
"Sometimes I just think is this really happening? I had one
sentence pop into my head. ... Now that my one little idea turned
into a whole book is just amazing," says Degman, 52, a mom of two
from Vernon Hills who teaches deaf and hard-of-hearing students in
the Special Education District of Lake County.
"1 Zany Zoo" will appear on 2.2. million
boxes of Cheerios.
That one little idea won Degman the Cheerios Spoonfuls of
Stories New Author Contest with her rhyming book, 1 Zany Zoo. Not
only will the bilingual picture book, illustrated by Colin Jack of
"Max & Ruby" fame, appear on 2.2 million boxes of Cheerios, it
will be published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young
The story follows the antics of the zoo animals after one
fearless fox steals the zookeeper's keys, all witnessed by a little
"I never actually imagined that somebody would some day say 'oh
I want to publish that.' I hoped, but I never really expected
Degman read constantly to her boys (they are now 20 and 23) and
fell in love with Dr. Seuss. Now she imagines her future
grandchildren and their grandchildren reading her book.
The best thing about being a mom: "My answer
would change based on my kids' ages. When they were in school,
being the center of the universe was the best possible thing to me.
They loved being with me, and we were always together. Now that
they are older, the best part I think is that we still have a great
relationship, just seeing they are successful. … I feel like OK,
job well done."
Advice to parents: "Read, read, read to your
kids and read to them even when they are older." Plus, get involved
with their schools. "It's a win-win all the way around. And spend
time with your kids. Before you know it, they don't want to be with
you. You are not the center of their universe anymore. Enjoy it
while it lasts."
Tamara is the editor of Chicago Parent and mom of three.
See more of Tamara's stories here.
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