Author and former Pocahontas County resident Debbie Mowbray reads her book “Roly Poly and the Ooey Gooey Play Date” to preschool and kindergarten students at Hillsboro Elementary School. S. Stewart photo

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

Hillsboro Elementary School students were treated to a special visit Monday from author Debbie Mowbray, who read her new children’s book, Roly Poly and the Ooey Gooey Play Date.

Formerly from Pocahontas County, Mowbray traveled from her home in Stafford, Virginia, to share her special tale of a baby African elephant.

“He’s a little baby,” Mowbray explained. “He’s smaller than usual. He loves to fight the big babies. He thinks he’s as big as they are.”

Roly Poly came to Mowbray when she was practicing writing prompts on a Facebook page she joined. The page was designed for amateur writers and members would post different prompts to help each other practice their skill.

“One day there was a little elephant that was put up there and I thought, ‘he looks like a Roly Poly,’” Mowbray said. “So I wrote a story about it and all the known authors said that it was really good, that it could be a children’s book.”

Mowbray took the leap and with the help of fellow writer and illustrator Rick Carufel, who illustrated Roly Poly, the book became a reality.

The adventures for Roly Poly won’t stop at just one book, though. Mowbray has plans for a series of books.

“There’s going to be a series of ten,” she said. “I’ve already got five more books written and to the illustrator. The second one is coming out next month. This time, Roly Poly meets monkeys.”

Mowbray hopes children will enjoy the books about a precocious little African elephant and if the books are well received, she hopes to give back to the mammals that inspired her.

“If the series starts selling, I really want some of the proceeds to go to saving the African elephants. I need to get some proceeds first,” she said, laughing.

Mowbray is also in the process of writing a novel, which takes a lot more time and effort than children’s books.

As she waits for the editor to finish with the novel, Mowbray will continue to take Roly Poly on all kinds of adventures.