Teen's book shares family tradition

‘Peanut Butter Toast’ salutes dad and sweet messages at mealtime

schandler@newsobserver.comNovember 25, 2012 

STACY CHANDLER

  • WHERE TO BUY “Peanut Butter Toast” is available from Amazon.com or through peakcitypublishing.com. It’s also sold at McIntyre’s Books in Fearrington Village and The Rusty Bucket and All Booked Up in Apex.

Allie Miszewski was a picky eater when she was a little girl, and her parents worried about how to get her to eat enough protein.

So they started making her peanut butter toast, which did the trick – and launched a family tradition. To this day, Allie’s dad makes her toast and then carves a picture into the peanut butter. It might be something pertaining to her day, like a pair of ballet shoes on a day she had dance class, or just an expression of love, like a tiara to tell her she’s his princess.

It’s become an important part of Allie’s life, symbolic of her close relationship with her dad, and so it was a natural choice for a subject when Allie, 15, set out to write a children’s book.

“There’s a lot of books about mother-child relationships,” Allie said, “but as great as that is and how much I think that’s worth cherishing, I think … it needed to be shown that there are very good relationships between father and daughter.”

Peak City Publishing in Apex agreed, and “Peanut Butter Toast” was published earlier this year – just in time for Father’s Day.

Along the way, Allie had help from Carol Crane, a Holly Springs resident who has published several children’s books, including “T is for Tar Heel: A North Carolina Alphabet.”

They met when Allie, who lives in Apex, took a writing class Crane offered for homeschooled students a few years ago. For the first assignment, Crane gave each student a rock and asked them to use all five senses to write about it.

“She just sailed through that,” Crane said, “so I knew right away that she had potential.”

They started working together at Crane’s home after the class was over, with Crane offering tips on publishing as well as advanced writing concepts like character development and story ideas.

“She was treating me like I was an adult,” Allie said. “That’s probably what I love so much about her.”

With Crane’s help, Allie polished “Peanut Butter Toast” until it was ready, and then dove into talks with her publisher. After a long period of waiting, revising, and working with an illustrator to make everything perfect, the book transformed from a concept to a reality.

“Oh, it was exciting,” Allie said. “To actually see people do my illustrations how I pictured it and to see my words on paper is very exciting, and just makes you feel like you accomplished something.”

But she believes there’s still more her book can accomplish. After collecting a few jars of peanut butter for the Western Wake Crisis Ministry at a book signing, she was inspired to seek a sponsor who can help her donate copies of her book along with jars of peanut butter to schools serving students from economically struggling families.

“That way, not only are kids getting a good reading thing to do, but they also are getting good protein for the day,” she said. “It’s a win-win situation.”

While she’s waiting for that dream to come true, she’s already hard at work at the next one: writing a young-adult novel.

She’s drawn to the challenge of writing on “a little more of a detailed, more descriptive scale,” she said, and writing in general is something she can’t imagine doing without.

“You get to create your own little world,” she said. “It’s just kind of like a fun little place that you can escape to and you can make things how you want them to be.”

Crane, for one, thinks Allie has plenty more to say in book form.

“I knew when she started writing that she would be able to write with a lot of feeling and commitment, and she has and she does,” Crane said. “So I think Allie, someday, we’re going to see her name on a bestseller.”

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