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Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Susan Wadino Knapps wrote 'Baby Bear to the Rescue'

  • Susan Wadino Knapps, Joplin, has been a storyteller most of  her life and now her own version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears is available in print.



    Storytelling is probably in her blood. The Scammon native said her parents, Joe and Lena Wadino, have always been storytellers.

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  • Susan Wadino Knapps, Joplin, has been a storyteller most of  her life and now her own version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears is available in print.
    Storytelling is probably in her blood. The Scammon native said her parents, Joe and Lena Wadino, have always been storytellers.
    Her own storytelling got a boost when her aunt bought her a Motorola tape recorder for Christmas when she was in fifth grade.
    “I taped the section of Dorothy in Munchkinland when ‘The Wizard of  Oz’ was shown on TV, and started working on these voices,” Knapps said. “People started having me over to be their entertainment.”
    She also branched out into doing fairy tales, with her own special twist.
    “I pulled those characters out and gave them voices,” Knapps said. “At 16 I was working in our church nursery and started telling the children my  version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”
    Her ‘Wizard of  Oz’ has remained a favorite.
    “Every time my Southeast High School class reunion meets, they  ask for my’Wizard of Oz’,” Knapps said. “I told them that as long as I can do it, I will do it at class meetings.”
    She married Michael Knapps and had  two sons, Ethan, a student at Crowder College, and Adam, who lives in Louisiana.  When they were little they enjoyed hearing her stories, too.
    But there was one problem with her stories.
    “After I would tell a story, people would want a book, and of course I didn’t have one, but this was in the back of my mind,” Knapps said.
    Eventually she got a manuscript together and approached Tate Publishing. The manuscript was accepted, and “Baby Bear to the Rescue” was released on May 8, 2012.
    Knapps earned a degree in elementary education from Pittsburg State University and  also has a master’s in administration from William Woods University. She is employed as a Title 1 reading teacher at Irving Elementary School, Joplin, working with youngsters in kindergarten through second grade.
    “I love it, I really do,” Knapps said. “Children make you always stay young. When they  learn a concept they’ve been struggling with, it’s very rewarding. And I work with a great staff.”
    She said her book has been a great tool to use in her classroom.
    “The students were with me when I was going through the publishing process,” Knapps said.
    The students of Irving Elementary School have been through a great deal. Located on 26th street, the school was directly in the path of the May 2011 Joplin tornado.
    “We lost our school, and 94 percent of our students lost their homes or had homes so badly damaged by the tornado that they had to live somewhere else for a while,” Knapps said. “We’ve been meeting in the old Washington Education Center by Joplin Supply. It’s amazing to watch these kids, so resilient after what they’ve been through. They’re able to talk about it and look forward to what tomorrow brings.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Their teacher shares some of those qualities. A recent routine colonoscopy revealed a cancerous polyp, and she has been recuperating from surgery. Fortunately, it appears the cancer was caught early, before it had a chance to spread.
    “I felt well and had no symptoms, this was just a routine test,” Knapps said. “I want to encourage everyone to have these tests. If I had waited a year, things might be very different. Even if you think having a colonoscopy is a hassle, it’s only one day of your life.”
    Her recuperation from surgery led to the postponing of a book signing she had scheduled at the Pittsburg Hastings store.
    “I’ll probably be able to re-schedule my Pittsburg signing in January,” Knapps said. “I’m also going to be keynote speaker and do a workshop for a young authors conference in April  at the Pittsburg Public Library. I was  so excited when they called me.”
    She has done some Joplin area signings and one in Bentonville, Ark.
    “This book has opened up a great opportunity to share my stories with other people and get to know other writers,” Knapps said.
    This may not be her only book.
    “My kids at school want a sequel, so I’m writing some things down and sort of planning,” Knapps said.
    For now. “Baby Bear to the Rescue” is available through Tate Publishing and online. Purchasers can also go to www.tatepublishing.com  and enter a coupon code to download an audio version to their computer.

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