By Rachel M. Anderson, Freelance Writer

 

(St. Louis Park, MN) - When the parents of today's toddlers were kids, life was a lot different in America. Back in the 1990s there was a lot of optimism in this country. The economy was booming, unemployment was at a low 4.2 percent and we were just beginning to enter The Digital Age (the World Wide Web was born in 1992). It seemed kids didn't have a care in the world.

Fast forward 20 years or so and things are a lot different. Today, children are surrounded by uncertainty. Tough economic times have led to record unemployment (9.6 percent in Oct. 2010). Foreclosures are at an all-time high (2 million as of July 31, 2010) and the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have required parents to leave home for long periods of time.

It's only natural that in times of uncertainty, kids have trouble finding their way. M.A.Toffle of St. Louis Park, Minn., is on a mission to help turn the tide; but it's not a mission he embarked upon consciously. He is not a writer, but a mechanical engineer.

"One day last summer I was driving to Bemidji, and when I was just north of St. Cloud a story about a little raindrop all of a sudden popped into my head," he said. "As soon as I reached my destination, I had to excuse myself to write it down before I did anything else."

Soon thereafter, those random thoughts became Toffle's first children's book. "The Raindrop Who Lost His Cloud But Found His Purpose" was published by Beaver's Pond Press of Edina, Minn., in Oct. 2010.

The main character in the story is a little raindrop named Stewart, who Toffle eventually figured out is supposed to represent stewardship. Stewart's story begins as he's moving from cloud to cloud trying to find his purpose in life. When he asks other raindrops what their purpose in life happens to be, all of them say, '˜To end up in the great ocean,' but Stewart knows there has to be more to life than just that.

So, he sets off on a mission to figure out his purpose, helping a lost fellow traveler along the way. Among the moral lessons taught in the story, the importance of having hope and helping others whenever you can. The book is aimed at kids, ages 5-8.

Tania Haber, the senior pastor at the author's church, Westwood Lutheran in St. Louis Park, says the story is going to do a lot of good. "M.A.'s book whimsically helps children consider their role in the world. I heartily endorse this children's book as a wonderful addition to the repertoire of literature we recommend to our families and in our education programs," she said.

"Tonight I had my chance to look at, and read M.A. Toffle's 'The Raindrop Who Lost his Cloud.' As it happened this was my grandson, Kaisei's fifth birthday - he lives currently in Japan. So, as we were skyping him, I decided to read and display the '˜Raindrop' to him. He was utterly spellbound! Young children have a natural sense of awe; teaching them about the pursuit of transcending purpose imbues them with the awe they crave naturally. To have a beloved parent, or, grandparent then feed such a message to him, guarantees it as a lasting foundation. Thanks for making that opportunity available to this grampa," said child psychologist Sigurd M. Hoppe, Ph.D.

"The Raindrop Who Lost His Cloud But Found His Purpose" was illustrated by Toffle's niece, Sommer Toffle, who works at Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art at Ligonier Valley, Penn.

To learn more about "The Raindrop Who Lost His Cloud But Found His Purpose," log on to the publisher's website: www.BeaversPondBooks.com, and type the title in the search box. The book is also available for purchase there, and through BarnesandNoble.com and Amazon.com.

Source: Information in this article obtained through 1-on-1 interview with M.A. Toffle.