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First Days of School

Children's author to sign book today about kindergartner's experience.


This is the month when yellow buses and crossing guards can stir up childhood memories of school, some pleasant and others best forgotten.

"School can be a wonderful place, full of learning and first-time social contacts, but it's also full of warts and bumps," Rosemary Wells, a children's book author and illustrator, said in a recent telephone interview.

Wells will appear at the Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble, 160 S. Westlake Blvd., at 11 a.m. today to discuss and sign her newly illustrated "Timothy Goes to School" (Viking Children's Books; $15.95).

In the book, Timothy starts kindergarten, that little world where parents can't always make things better.

Wells described public school as a place where children are thrown in with classmates based on where they live.

Like it or not, they are usually together for the next 12 years, so they have to get along and learn to deal with each other, she said.

She speculated that even Nancy Reagan might have had a Claude in her youth--Claude being the tormenting character in her book who deflates little Timothy's ego by being the smartest and best at everything.

"It's really funny, but no matter how old you get, you remember all those people in the formative years of your childhood and the emotional impact that they had that is so important," she said.


The book is about the central effect of people wanting or expecting you to be cool, when you just can't be it. It's also about how the power of friendship can overcome the power of pettiness, she said.

Wells said she is delighted that Timothy will be featured in the PBS series "Kids Bookworm Bunch," premiering at 9 a.m. Sept. 30.

When Wells isn't sketching or writing in her Westchester, N.Y., home or on a book-signing tour, she is out on the road talking about the power of reading aloud--at least 20 minutes every day--to children.

Her book, "Read to Your Bunny," published by Scholastic Books, is part of a national campaign with the American Booksellers Assn. and the Assn. of Booksellers for Children called "Prescription for Reading."

As part of the campaign, Scholastic has distributed her book, along with prescription coupons, to booksellers and local pediatricians nationwide.

"Reading aloud to children is as important as using seat belts, inoculations and proper nutrition," she said. "It's the only way they learn to use their imagination and feel their own individuality."

The prolific author, with 60 published books during the past 30 years, has also written novels for young adults. For more information, check out or


* Sunday: 3 p.m. John Gilstrap will discuss and sign "Even Steven" at Mysteries to Die For, 2940 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 374-0084.

* Sunday: 7 p.m. Gen Kelsang Ledma will present the book "Eight Steps to Happiness," composed by Tibetan Bodhisattva Langri Tangpa, as "Eight Verses of Training the Mind." Borders Books & Music, 125 W. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, 497-8159.

* Monday: 10 a.m. Poet Ted Kooser will give a lecture on "Delights and Shadows" at Samuelson Chapel at Cal Lutheran University. He will also give a poetry reading at 8 p.m. in Overton Hall. Free and open to the public. 60 W. Olsen Road, Thousand Oaks, 493-3151.

* Monday: 11:30 a.m. Story time from "The Sneetches and Other Stories." Learn more about "Close the Book on Hate," a joint program of Barnes & Noble and the Anti-Defamation League. Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble, 446-2820.

* Tuesday: 7 p.m. American Girl II--History Mysteries Book Club for ages 10 and older. Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble, 446-2820.

* Tuesday: at 7 p.m. The Short Story Group will focus on "That Evening Sun" by William Faulkner. Borders Books & Music, 497-8159.

* Tuesday: 7 p.m. The Partners in Crime Mystery Group will focus on "Fool's Puzzle" by Earlene Fowler. Borders Books & Music, 497-8159.

* Wednesday: 9:30 a.m. Story time about autumn. Ventura Barnes & Noble, 339-9170.

* Wednesday: 11 a.m. The Food Lovers Group will explore Chinese cuisine. Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble, 446-2820.

* Wednesday: 7 p.m. The Writing Group will read and discuss poetry, short stories, novels and other works in progress. Open to writers of all genres. Ventura Barnes & Noble, 339-9170).

* Wednesday: 7 p.m. John Michael Saunders, a vice president at PaineWebber and an instructor at The Learning Tree University, will discuss investment opportunities for women. Borders Books & Music, 497-8159.

* Thursday: 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan will sign her new book "I Love You, Ronnie: The Letters of Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan" at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, 40 Presidential Drive, Simi Valley, 522-2977.

* Thursday: 4 p.m. Elementary teachers can meet author and children's librarian Alan Rockman in Civil War uniform as he presents "Civil War: Garments, History, Legends and Lore." Free resource materials and educator's discount. Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble, 446-2820.

* Thursday: 7 p.m. The American Girls Club meeting will focus on Felicity. Thousand Oaks Barnes & Noble, 446-2820.

* Friday: 7 p.m. Selections from "The Sneetches and Other Stories." Learn more about "Close the Book on Hate," a joint program of Barnes & Noble and the Anti-Defamation League. Ventura Barnes & Noble, 339-9170.

Information about book signings, writers groups and publishing events can be e-mailed to or faxed to 647-5649.

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