Kassie, a spotted 1-year-old pup, is teaching children to remain true to their values, even when treated unkindly.
And her tale is being told through a children's book titled, "The New Puppy at the Pound," written by Kim Schidrich and illustrated by Sherri Dewig. The Bluffton mothers began collaborating on the book more than two years ago, although Schidrich had the text written before becoming a mom.
When Schidrich turned 40 in 2009, she decided to get serious about getting her first book published.
"As a 40th-birthday present for myself, I wanted everybody to learn to love Kassie, this sweet adorable puppy," Schidrich said. "And that's when I contacted Sherri."
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The women knew each other from being active parents at St. Gregory's Catholic School, where their children are enrolled. Schidrich and her husband, Steve, moved here from Long Island, N.Y., in 1999, and have settled at Rose Hill Plantation. The mother of two is a lawyer and practices with her father, Stephen Mangiaracina and sister, Michele, who are both attorneys.
The two children illustrated throughout the 14-page, softcover book are renderings of the Schidriches' 12-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son.
Dewig and her husband, Rob, moved from Fort Branch, Ind., to Bluffton about 15 years ago. The couple lives at Lake Linden and have three children under the ages of 10. Dewig runs her own graphic design business and is a first-time artist for a book that is geared toward children, ages 4 to 9.
"Sherri just nailed everything straight out," said Schidrich, whose passion for her book spills over in her enthusiastic voice. "We would discuss something, and I'd get so excited when I'd get a new email from her because she'd nail it. It's amazing. We really are on the same wavelength."
Kassie is the story of a brown and white dog with spots and is being made fun of at the pound by prettier dogs. Although treated unkindly, she is kind to the other dogs and ultimately makes friends with them.
"I'm trying to tell inspirational stories that are going to make a difference in a child's life," Schidrich said. "I think about different virtues and values that I think should be instilled in children. When I hear or see something good or bad, that sparks an idea."
After unsuccessful attempts to get her book picked up by a major publishing company, Schidrich said "the polite rejection letters" were her reality check. She decided the practical route was to self-publish her book and she selected AuthorHouse.
The book came out in November 2011. Over the past few months, Schidrich and Dewig have done some book signings at various venues in Bluffton. Schidrich said she has ideas for four more books, and already has written "Jasper The Giant" and "Winston the Winner!," which have yet to be illustrated.
"If a child is going through a tough time, and if I can make a difference and help them get through that; if they smile at Sherri's illustration, that's a gift to give somebody," Schidrich said.