Couple brings zoo antics to elementary schools
by Rebecca Johnston
February 06, 2014 10:25 PM | 2100 views | 0 0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Students Bo Holcomb, Sarah Bergman and Austin Whitley with author Ryan Murphy and his co-author and wife, Grace Millsaps. Murphy read his book ‘What the Sleepy Animals Do at the Audubon Zoo’ in January to Cherokee schoolchildren. <br> Special to the Tribune
Students Bo Holcomb, Sarah Bergman and Austin Whitley with author Ryan Murphy and his co-author and wife, Grace Millsaps. Murphy read his book ‘What the Sleepy Animals Do at the Audubon Zoo’ in January to Cherokee schoolchildren.
Special to the Tribune
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Murphy read his book ‘What the Sleepy Animals Do at the Audubon Zoo’ in January to Cherokee schoolchildren.
Murphy read his book ‘What the Sleepy Animals Do at the Audubon Zoo’ in January to Cherokee schoolchildren.
slideshow
The son of a Bascomb Elementary teacher and an Etowah High graduate, who is now a published children’s author, visited his old elementary school in January to read his book to students.

Ryan Murphy and his wife and co-author, Grace Millsaps, also stopped by Holly Springs and Sixes elementary schools to read “What the Sleepy Animals Do at the Audubon Zoo” to young students.

Murphy is the son of Cherokee County teacher Penny Murphy and attended Boston and Bascomb elementary schools, E.T. Booth Middle School and Etowah High before graduating in 2003 and going on to get a law degree from Boston University.

Sixes Elementary counselor Lynn Watts said the kindergarten, first- and second-grade students actually went bananas over the book.

“They were a great group and the teachers thought it was one of the best author visits we have had, not only that they read the book, but played a game as well and the kid got bananas as prizes,” Watts said.

The couple arrived early in their green-alligator-mobile, loaded down with books and bananas to share with students, Watts said.

Murphy credits his mother with introducing him to great books and instilling a love of reading as a child, Watts said on her blog. Watts, also a writer, posts regularly on “Caring for the Kids: A school counselor’s blog.”

Once they decided to write a children’s story, they brainstormed with illustrators and friends, John Clark IV and Allyson Kilday to create the enchanting story about the animals at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans, who party all night and sleep all day, Watts said.

The Zoo Krewe, as the four collaborators call themselves, formed in New Orleans after the two couples met socially.

Murphy and Millsaps came to New Orleans after Murphy finished law school in Boston.

As a preschool teacher, Millsaps read many children’s book and had a sneaking suspicion that her years writing poetry would serve her well in writing children’s books, according to the website for the book. Murphy had experience in journalism and sketch comedy, and he became interested in writing books after reading about the opportunities created by digital publishing.

The couple decided to write a children’s book. They didn’t have any idea what they were going to write about, but they were going to take a crack at it, the website said.

The couple broached their plan to Kilday and Clark, who revealed they would like to be part of the book, with Clark doing the illustrations and Kilday the marketing.

“We agreed to sit down and talk about making a children’s book. That’s all it took,” according to the website.

The book is available at FoxTale Book Shoppe in Woodstock or at thesleepyanimals.com.

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