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Dean writes children's book

By Leigh Anne Butler

"I have always enjoyed writing," said Tallassee native Brooke Dean. "Being an elementary teacher, I am reading a lot of children's books. I had a dream to write my own." Dean's first book, "Parker's Markers" is slated for release Aug. 1 and is presently available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble for pre-order. The book's main character, Parker, is modeled after Dean's niece who loves to draw. Dean drew inspiration for the book from her own teaching experiences. Currently Dean is teaching third grade in the Marshall Islands, a remote island in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Australia. "In college, I had wanted to study abroad but never had the opportunity. I'd been on mission trips and been out of the country before," Dean explained.

Last year Dean had the opportunity to teach at an army military base on the island. The Marshall Islands is roughly six miles long, three miles wide and has approximately 1,200 residents.

"It's like a step back in time," she said. "There are no vehicles on the island except emergency and work vehicles. Everyone rides bicycles. I am two minutes from work, one minute from the grocery store and about 30 seconds from the beach. There are no cell towers and there is only one airline that services the island three times a week.

"It is just beautiful all the time. We are on a coral reef so the snorkeling is great. The weather is perfect - 82 degrees year round. You can swim in the ocean in December." Dean wrote the manuscript for her book two summers ago.

"It has been a passion project for me and I am very proud of it. I went the self-publishing route so I could have more creative control. It was a big learning process and I had to research everything.

"It has been amazing! My last class was able to see the whole book project come to fruition. I shared it with them when it was only a word document. Then I got the sketches and eventually they saw it all come together. They were all so excited. They wanted my autograph." Dean hired an illustrator from the United Kingdom.

"She took my vision and made it into what I was thinking. She used photos of my niece and even incorporated my little dog Shaggy in the book too, so it has that personal touch." Dean is a 2009 graduate of Tallassee High School. She earned a bachelor's degree in Childhood Education and a master's in Early Childhood Education from Auburn University Montgomery. She taught in Alabama for seven years before traveling to the Marshall Islands to teach. "I have a sequel in the works that will incorporate the Marshall Islands in it. I'd love to see Parker's Markers in libraries and get it in the hands of teachers and parents."