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Page Turners: Children's Books for Charity

MINNEAPOLIS — An unparalleled pinky finger led father-daughter co-authors to write one children's book that they followed with a story about unique internal characteristics.

Former Vikings Hall of Famer and Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page and his daughter, Kamie, have combined their passion for education and their enjoyment of writing Alan and his Perfectly Pointy Impossibly Perpendicular Pinky into the publication of a second children's book.

*The Invisible You *was released in December, and proceeds from both books benefit the Page Education Foundation (www.page-ed.org), an organization founded 27 years ago to fund scholarships for persons of color who tutor younger students.

Writing a "fun, light-hearted" take about Page's conspicuous pinky, the result of his tough and physical play during his storied career, led the father and daughter to collaborate on the second book to teach young people to appreciate individual differences of their peers.

The duo had previously worked together on Justice Page's speeches but learned more about each other while authoring the books. Kamie Page, an elementary school teacher, called the collaborations a "delightful" process.

"I drafted a story, and he and I worked together and he's a real stickler," Kamie Page said. "He's the wordsmith. He's the one that really looks at the story with a critical eye and says, 'Is that the right word,' or 'is this what we're really trying to say?' I think what's exciting is I was able to take that back to my classroom and show my students, 'this is really what the process is: you draft and go back and revise and edit and you don't get it right the first time,' and I think it's been fun to play off each other's strengths, and it's been really rewarding."

Kamie Page said children's books can be a powerful tool to teach lessons beyond the core curriculum so that students can learn more about "their identity, about respecting differences and being OK with the differences inside of themselves."

The Invisible You is about a curious little boy named Howard who feels "different" while experiencing a new neighborhood and school. When his teacher asks Howard to describe himself, he talks about what others can physically see.

"I think a lot of people feel that way, our outward differences make us who we are, but really there are attributes about ourselves, the invisible part that make us really who we are: our likes, our dislikes, our passions, our thoughts, our feelings that people have to really get to know in order to truly understand who we are," Kamie Page said.

Justice Page said working on the books has been fulfilling and fun because of their relationship and because of Kamie's understanding of young people.

"She has incredible insights to how children think and being able to communicate that," Justice Page said. "I, in terms of, particularly with this second book, it was her story and I couldn't see how it could possibly go together, how you could say what we wanted to say in the confines of a book that we had the ability to write. She did the first draft, and we talked about it time and time again, and I still couldn't get it, and after looking at that first draft and thinking about it, 'OK, I see what we're doing here. I see what we're doing there, and then if we can play with this and play with that, maybe we've got something here.' Ultimately, I think it turned out very well."

The Pages said the illustrations provided by Minneapolis-based artist David Geister, described by Justice Page as a "phenomenal" artist, conveyed the spirits of the stories.

"He captured in the artwork what we were trying to communicate, and we worked really well as a team because part of a children's book, a picture book, an important part is the pictures," Justice Page said. "They communicate the words in a slightly different way than the words themselves. They give texture and color and meaning to the words, and he was phenomenal."

Added Kamie Page: "I think we're really lucky. Most children's book authors send their story off to the publisher and then they don't know who the illustrator is or what's going to happen with the illustrations, but we were able to work together so closely with David to convey the message we wanted to convey."

The books are available for purchase at (www.page-ed.org). The Page Education Foundation has awarded post-secondary scholarships to nearly 6,000 students with help from the Vikings Children's Fund.

The Page Education Foundation is holding its annual fundraising gala on April 11 at Target Field (click here* *for tickets. A reduced price on tickets is available until March 20).

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