By Molly Richmond / Photography by Craig Stocks
Sometimes the stars align and art happens! Being in the right place at the right time benefitted Delavan, Illinois author Pam Sydney in a way she would never have imagined.
Pam remembers having a great love for reading while she was growing up in Galesburg, Illinois. “My favorite books to read were the Laura Ingalls Wilder series. I never had a favorite one, I just liked them all.” It was this love of reading that started her down the path to becoming a librarian and a published author.
As we traveled down memory lane, Pam recalled that in high school she met her future husband, Randy. They have been married for thirty plus years and still live in the same house where they raised their family. Pam is the mother of two grown daughters and a son, but her pride and joy are her two granddaughters and grandson. Pam said, “I absolutely love being a grandmother!”
Once her last child was in school, Pam decided to work part time at the Ayer Library in Delavan. Pam loved working with young children during the library’s reading program and one evening she put pen to paper and wrote a short story to share with the children. She named it “Mikey the Chicken Turtle.” “My character is based on a pet turtle we have at the library,” she explained. “We actually have two, Mikey and Suptle. The reason I called Mikey a “chicken turtle” was because when you peek into his tank he always cowers as if he is afraid. After the idea for the story came to me, I wrote the book basically in one evening.” Two local young women, Natalie Lesson and Emily Springer, were in the library and decided to make up story boards to enhance the story reading.
Pam’s big break came while the story boards were on display at the library. A friend stopped by the library and happened to have a woman with her who worked for Tate Publishing. Upon seeing the story boards, she showed an interest in publishing the story. Pam was excited, but unsure of her next steps. She checked with the Ayer Library to see if there would be a conflict of interest and found that the library staff was very supportive. Pam then researched Tate Publishing and when she learned that they were a Christian based company she felt comfortable enough to proceed.
A year and a half later, Pam was holding her first published book in her hands. “Mikey the Chicken Turtle” is a children’s repetitious story based on the journey of a little shy turtle. Along his journey he encounters different animals and is frightened. The plot of the story answers the question, “Will Mikey always be a chicken turtle? Swim along with Mikey and you’ll see!” When asked if there are any plans for additional books, Pam laughed and said, “You never know when or if inspiration will strike again, but I am open to it.”
Pam has sold several hundred books and you can find them on Amazon and on Tate Publishing’s website. What I would suggest is to take a nice drive to the Ayer Library in Delavan, meet Mikey the chicken turtle, and get a personal signed copy from Pam Sydney herself.