On Monday, it was muffins with moms, Wednesday dads came in to have donuts with their children, and on Friday grandparents came to the Hillsboro Elementary School to enjoy grapes with their grandchildren, and to hear stories from Slickfester Dude, a human-sized cat.
Slickfester Dude, a large black cat who tells stories about life on the farm, is the feature character in a book written and published by Carol Duerksen and Maynard Knepp in 1998. The book is called Slickfester Dude Tells Bedtime Stories: Life Lessons from our Animal Friends.
HES Principal Evan Yoder said he planned the activities to celebrate American Education Week, and children from kindergarten to 5th grade participated.
“It was really great how it all culminated in the storytelling with Slickfester Dude,” Yoder said. “I’ve known Carol Duerksen and Maynard Knepp (authors) for years and they have such a neat presentation. It was fun to have grandparents there to enjoy the stories as well as the children.”
The couple released a new collection of animal stories called “Short Tales” this summer. The star of that collection, Walter the corgi dog, was on hand Friday at the elementary school to express his opinion as well.
“This was Walter’s first public appearance so he wasn’t quite sure what to think of a room full of 30 or more students,” Duerksen said. “But he just sat under my chair and looked out. The children enjoyed seeing him there. It made his stories real.”
Walter is a real dog, but Slickfester Dude is really Knepp dressed in a black cat costume. He has been presenting storytelling sessions for years to audiences of all ages.
“From surveys we get back, it seems like they really like the stories about Emma the little lost lamb, or Walter and Wong (a cat) stealing eggs,” Duerksen said.
Duerksen, Knepp, and animals presented a program at Goessel Elementary School for Book-It Week earlier this month. In December, they will be in McPherson for book signing events.