Book sure to delight young children

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A new award-winning book series is sure to delight your young children.

"The Life and Times of Birdie Mae Hayes" is a series set in Rainbow, Alabama, by Franklin resident Jeri-Anne Agee. The first book, "Friends Forever," introduces the main character, Birdie Mae Hayes, a third-grader, as well as her family, teachers and best friend, Sally. The target audience is children in grades 1-3. Agee said she wanted to provide children in those grades a character they could relate to, similar to the character of Ramona in well-known books by Beverly Cleary.

"Having characters their age, and who are funny, is a big deal for that age group," Agee said.

The book is very readable, given its targeted age, and is sure to delight. There are about 49 pages, but that includes lots of illustrations (in black and white) and title pages. The short page count, at 5,000 words, is intentional, based on Agee's experience as a mother.

"Friends Forever" provides life lessons on honesty, loyalty and friendship as 8-year-old Birdie Mae deals with a secret: She has an intuition to warn her when something bad will happen.

Agee, a Huntsville, Alabama, native, said she has been an avid reader since she was 8, and over the years she has thought of writing a book. The mother of three retired early from the financial industry and wanted to bring a memorable Southern character to children, with a Christian spin.

Jeri-Anne Agee (Submitted photo)

"Friends Forever" is the only book in circulation so far. The next book, set for release in early 2015, will feature Birdie Mae learning to use her gift to help others.

"Friends Forever" is available on Amazon and major book retail websites. It's self-published (through self-publishing company AuthorHouse), but Agee said she is in discussions with literary agents about getting the series published traditionally. The book won recognition by the Mom's Choice Awards as one of the best in family-friendly media, products and services. The book also won 2nd place in the Children's Chapter Book category in the Royal Dragonfly Book Awards for excellence in literature.

Agee said she plans 15 books in the series, which will cover Birdie Mae's life through the summer after 5th grade. A spin-off series based on her brother Bubba is possible.

More information is available at birdiemaehayes.com.

-- Jason Reynolds is a staff writer for the Times-Gazette. Email him at jreynolds@t-g.com. Follow him on Twitter at @reynoldsjason.

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