Authors' books history lessons for kids


CHERYL BARNES WILL share the stories and experiences of writing and illustrating children's books at the Mount Airy Middle School media center at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Barnes and her husband, Peter, are owners and founders of Vacation Spot Books (VSP), an Alexandria, Va.-based publishing company. They write and illustrate books about historical places to teach children about art, architecture, and how government works in our nation's capital. The couple has two daughters.

Their work has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report, C-SPAN, National Public Radio, Child Magazine and other news and educational organizations.

Cheryl was born and raised in Alexandria and has co-written and illustrated nine books with Peter.

She has a degree in political science and co-founded an architectural firm in Los Angeles before returning to Virginia.

She is a self-taught artist and an honorary member of Delta Kappa Gamma. She is also a member of the board of Northern Virginia Reading Is Fundamental.

Peter is a Washington-based broadcaster and journalist who is host of a daily politics and public affairs television program, "Take Action America," from Washington for the American Voice Cable Network.

Before that he was an anchor-reporter for CNBC, the business and financial news channel owned by NBC. Peter holds degrees in political science and finance. He has also worked for the Wall Street Journal.

The Barneses started VSP in 1993, a year after a frantic tourist ran past Peter in a bookstore on Nantucket Island, demanding a children's book about Nantucket from the store's owner.

The store owner told the tourist that, unfortunately, no children's books were available about beautiful Nantucket. The Barneses decided the tourist's misfortune might be their opportunity and, by fall 1993, VSP's first book, "Nat, Nat, the Nantucket Cat," was on store shelves. To date, their books have sold more than 125,000 copies.

After the presentation at the middle school, books will be available for purchase and will be autographed. VSP titles include: "Woodrow, the White House Mouse," "House Mouse, Senate Mouse," "Marshall, the Courthouse Mouse," "Martha's Vineyard," "Alexander, the Old Town Mouse," "Nat, Nat, the Nantucket Cat," "Capital Cooking with Woodrow and Friends," "Mosby, the Kennedy Center Cat," "Cornelius Vandermouse, the Pride of Newport" and "A 'Mice' Way to Learn About Government Curriculum Guide."

The middle school is at 102 Watersville Road. The presentation, sponsored by Omicron Chapter, Delta Kappa Gamma Society, is open to the public.

Information: 301-829-1775.

Sock hop

Mount Airy Middle School will hold a sock hop from 3: 45 p.m. to 5: 45 p.m. today. Pupils can remain after school and attend the event with a completed permission slip.

Tickets are $3 and will be on sale before school. Pupils are asked to bring a canned good. Canned goods collected will be donated to Mount Airy NET's food pantry to help neighbors in need.

Information: 301-829-1314.

Fire company dinner

Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Company will hold a turkey, oyster and ham dinner starting at noon Sunday. The dinner will be held at the carnival grounds at Route 27 and Twin Arch Road in Mount Airy.

Cost is $10 for adults, $5 for children younger than age 12 and free for children younger than age 5. Carryouts are 50 cents extra.

Information: 301-829-0100.

Donna Abel's Southwest Neighbors column appears each Friday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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