Friday, Oct. 05, 2012
To the Cider Mill
Belton cider mill serves as backdrop for children’s activity book
From the leaves crunching beneath your feet, the red-painted barn storefront and the crisp aromas of spiced apple cider and donuts, 54-year-old Belton resident Danna York’s inspiration for a fall-themed activity book was drawn on her memories of a Cass County cider mill.
York developed an interest in writing and art in high school and had always wanted to write a book.
Later as an adult, as York homeschooled her three children, Timothy, Emily and Samuel, the start of a new school year was always marked by a trip to the nearby Dunn’s Cider Mill in Belton.
On top of all that, York said that she’s always loved the fall season.
“I have always learned that you write about what you know,” York said. “I would come up here and draw, get ideas, and sit here with the people, and watch kids come in.”
York’s interests for creative writing, drawing and the cider mill came together to serve as inspiration for the activity book, and Dunn’s eventually became the backdrop to York’s self-published children’s activity book, “To the Cider Mill.”
York wrote and illustrated the 28-page book that is now in its eighth year of publication.
The book follows a short, memorable poem from one page to the next and challenges children to draw along with York. Blank drawing pages are included for children to bring to life their own imaginations on paper.
“The goal of the book is to get children drawing...and not have a bunch of rules about it,” she said. “I think it’s one of the simplest, easiest little talents to get your children going in.”
York’s work is inspired by notable children’s book authors and illustrators Beatrix Potter and Tasha Tudor. About 500 copies of the book are sold in about 30 locations, primarily cider mills, across the United States, annually.
“The book isn’t for me as much as it’s for kids to really enjoy something,” York said.
Through the opportunity of homeschooling her own children, York began teaching art and literature classes to students throughout the community.
“One day in my literature class, literally, I remembered thinking, ‘I would put together a book myself, and make sure kids are drawing along with it to get the literature, reading, art, the experience of a cider mill.’”
Before having children of her own, York taught preschool and later worked as a model, but found time to keep up with her creative interest through writing and painting classes, but never went to school to earn a degree.
“I was pretty much self-taught, and that’s pretty much how I’ve seen my whole life,” she said. “If I ever think of doing something, I just start working at it. I didn’t get serious lessons until I was way into my 30s.”
In addition to promoting her book, York continues to share her love for art with the children in her community by taking her activity book to schools to share with students.
“When I work with kids, I always try to inspire them to always have a sketchbook, and write down anything they feel or see, because you never know when that might turn into a book someday,” York said. “The things that you think of when you’re little are actually the things you go back to thinking about when you’re older because you’re writing for kids, and you want to remember who you were as a child, what you thought about and what you liked.”
Danna York’s “To the Cider Mill” is available locally at the following locations:
• Dunn’s Cider Mill, 17003 Holmes Rd., Belton.
• Stacks Depot, 311 Main St., Belton.
• KD’s Books, 241 SE Main St., Lee’s Summit.
• Mariam’s Memories, 10 SW Third St., Lee’s Summit.
• Nelson Atkins Art Gallery, 4525 Oak St., Kansas City.
• Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead, 13800 Switzer Rd., Overland Park, Kan.
• Louisburg Cider Mill, 14730 Kansas 68, Louisburg, Kan.
• For more information about having Danna York visit your school or community group, or to place book orders, call 816-322-5411. York also has a Facebook page. Find it by searching for “To the Cider Mill - Danna York author.”