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Mainer celebrates National Grandparents Day with new children's book

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Disney publishes Maine author's newest children's book

BUXTON - Author Toni Buzzeo of Buxton has always loved the written word. These days her favorite word happens to be Grandma. She is especially fond of the Swahili term for Grandma, 'Bibi.' It was 'Bibi,' her love of elephants and her new found role as grandma that inspired her to write her latest African-themed children's picture book called, 'My Bibi Always Remembers.' The story follows a grandma elephant as she leads her large family, including her grandchild, Tembo, to water in the wilderness.

"The book is a tribute to my grandmother and the wisdom of an older generation," said Buzzeo. "With Bibi, she's the one who knows and that's based on lots of research that the elephant matriarch remembers past droughts and they just know where to go [for water] and that's astonishing to me. It's also symbolic of the life experience grandparents have to share."

Buzzeo's book is also based on her many trips to the Amboseli National Park in Africa. It's a place she has been able to visit more than once. Her first trip was in 1995. There among the Acacia trees she was able to watch and photograph elephant herds in their natural environment.

"They're so big and so gentle and very much responsible for each other. I also read a lot and watched a lot of videos. So that all enriched the book," said Buzzeo.

'My Bibi Always Remembers' is the final book in a three book series written by Buzzeo and illustrated by Mike Wohnuoutka. 'Stay Close to Mama,' about a giraffe and her curious baby, was the first in the series, followed by 'Just Like My Papa,' about a lion cub eager to follow in his father's footsteps. All three are published by Disney Publishing Worldwide.

"I always knew I wanted to do a third, and it would be a grandmother story. This one just came at such a great time at the start of my journey as a grandmother. And Mike has just been a dream to work with. He's such a responsive illustrator and so open to comments. Since I had been there and had lots of photos, I could show him that they don't bend their leg that way when they lay down, they lay down this way," explained Buzzeo.

'My Bibi Always Remembers' hit the shelves this week just in time for National Grandparents Day, which is always observed on the first Sunday after Labor Day in the U.S.

"I just think grandparents have an extraordinary role in a child's life," said Buzzeo. "I know I'm very much the person I am because of my grandmother."

But being a new grandma hasn't slowed Buzzeo down a bit. She has many more books on the horizon, all stories she looks forward to reading aloud to her grandson in the months and years ahead.

For more information on Toni Buzzeo, including a list of her children's books, log on to www.tonibuzzeo.com.

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