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UW-Eau Claire senior finds success in writing children's books

November 14, 2012
Patty Benson

EAU CLAIRE — A University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire senior takes her love of writing out of the classroom and into the literary world.

Patty Benson, a 28-year-old creative writing major from Rice Lake, has been writing stories since childhood. She had her first book, "The Dream Maker," a young adult science fiction story, published when she was 17. As a student at UW-Eau Claire, Benson continues to have publishing success with two more of her children's books.

In Benson's second book, "The Nameless Child," she combined her passion for writing and her American Indian studies minor to tell the story of a Native American boy who finds himself on a journey to discover his name sooner than expected. This book has been ordered for UW-Eau Claire's McIntyre Library.

"I wrote this book while taking the 'Writing for Children' class with Dr. Jack Bushnell (UW-Eau Claire professor of English)," Benson said. "Jack encouraged me, and other students, to publish our work and offered me resources and support. He has his own children's books published so it was inspiring."

Benson said she got the idea for the book after a friend told her his Native American naming story. "The naming tradition varies," she explained. "One person may have three to four names during their lifetime depending on tribal culture."

Support from her professors in the English and American Indian studies departments has been influential in her writing, Benson said.

"My classes and professors have helped me gain confidence and belief in what I am writing," she said. "I am hoping to do an independent study project based on this experience where I write my own step-up books for children and translate them into different Native American languages in the Eau Claire area, such as Lakota and Ho-Chunk. I'm using this experience to go beyond what I'm learning in the classroom."

Benson's third book, "Pretty Little Gipsy," continues with the cultural theme by telling the tale of a little girl defying cultural norms to make her own way in the world.

"This story is a little bit about me," Benson said. "It reflects the encouragement I have received from my parents to always be myself."

The book currently is being illustrated and will be published by the end of the year.



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