FORT HOOD, Texas - Over 20 kids flocked to the Casey Memorial Library here, July 30, to meet Army mom and author Tricia Stone-Shumaker, a speech pathologist, and Poppy the chicken, star of children’s books ‘Perfectly Poppy’ and ‘Patiently Poppy.’
The meet-the-author event was filled with laughter, the clucking of chickens, and important themes shared with those in attendance. Stone-Shumaker introduced everyone to two feathered friends, Poppy and Maisy. Out of the eight chickens Stone-Shumaker owns, Poppy seemed to be the real star of the show.
Poppy is a cross beak chicken, meaning his upper and lower beaks are not correctly aligned and they overlap each other. This malformation prohibits Poppy from closing his mouth properly, which makes it difficult to eat and drink.
“Without intervention of any sort, he wouldn’t have made it. And I was able to find the inspiration of traveling across the country, realizing okay, we’re helping him, we’re feeding him, and he’s able to go to lots of different places, and the disability isn’t stopping him,” Stone-Shumaker said.
Writing a children’s book was always a goal of Stone-Shumaker’s, but it wasn’t until she adopted Poppy that she had the inspiration for a book.
“A special need is a special need regardless of whether we can see it or not. And that is a message that I like sharing with not just the kids but the parents. We talk to everybody and there is a level of inclusion,”
Stone-Shumaker explained. “If there is a special need, it doesn’t mean you can’t do it, you can do anything. And that’s what we want to implant for anybody that comes in and listens and meets Poppy.”
After sharing the story of how Stone-Shumaker came to adopt Poppy, Poppy’s medical history, and then the reading of both books, each child had the opportunity to meet and pet both chickens.
The joy of these interactions could be seen easily in the eyes of both Logan and Wyatt Niles, twin 2-year-olds, as well as in the eyes of their mom.
“When I saw that Poppy the Chicken was coming out to the Casey Memorial Library, I thought this would be an excellent way to introduce them to the library. This was their first experience and they absolutely had a blast with story time, the craft project and visiting Poppy and Maisy,” said Christine Luciano, environmental outreach coordinator with the Fort Hood Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division. “Having these engaging, interactive outreach opportunities helps them to explore and lets us create special memories too. It teaches them that reading is fun and further expands their creativity and imagination.”
Stone-Shumaker is currently traveling the country to promote her new book, ‘Patiently Poppy;’ during the reading of which, she shared is only her second time reading aloud. She also made sure to emphasize to the room that she had to include Fort Hood in the stops because her son is stationed here.
1st Lt. Forrest Zenone, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, has been stationed at Fort Hood for a year now and was excited that his mom included the Great Place in her tour stops.
“This is their second time here at Fort Hood. They’re very familiar with the military stuff, since my mom was raised in the Navy,” Zenone shared. “It’s great and it’s the perfect opportunity to bring awareness to Fort Hood with the books that she has.”
You can pick up either book at all major booksellers. For future events at Casey Memorial Library, be sure to follow Army MWR Library on Facebook with the hashtag #forthoodcasey.
To find out when Poppy will be back at Fort Hood, be sure to follow him on Facebook at @PoppysAdventures.