(Camden, N.J.) –  There were lots of happy second graders at the Distinctions in Urban Education (D.U.E.) Season Charter School in Camden, N.J. on Wednesday, March 14, 2012. They got to meet the author of the children’s book that inspired a memorable project for them.

Mary Linda Sather of Duluth, Minn., the author of Boo Boo Bear’s Mission The True Story of A Teddy Bear’s Adventures in Iraq, visited with the kids via Skype, and she wasn’t the only one on camera. So was Boo Boo Bear.

Boo Boo Bear’s Mission The True Story of A Teddy Bear’s Adventures in Iraq is the story of how the author’s 12-year-old granddaughter, Shea Leigh, stayed connected to her Dad, SMSgt. Ron Waterhouse, when he was sent on his second of three deployments to Iraq. She sent her beloved teddy bear to him in a care package. The bear got to go on all kinds of adventures when he was in Iraq, even up in an F-16.

Debbie Otis, a second grade teacher at D.U.E. Seasons Charter School, learned about  the book last summer while visiting the Fayetteville, N.C., Barnes & Noble. “A friend found Boo Boo Bear’s Mission on the shelf and thought I could read the book to my kids back in New Jersey.  I sat down and I read the book. My eyes started filling up with tears, and suddenly the idea for the project, Teddy Bears to Troops, rushed into my head and were unstoppable. I got real excited, “ she said.

When she returned to Camden, Otis set the wheels in motion. Her friend Casey Rodgers, whose husband was an Army Chinook pilot, provided the funding for supplies. Other friends actually made the bears, and by the time they arrived, Otis had secured a grant from an organization called Soldiers Angels to cover the cost of mailing.

Some of the bears ended up being sent to U.S. bases. Others were shipped as far away as Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan and Korea. Each bear was sent with a letter from one of the students in the second grade at D.U.E. Season Charter School, thanking troops for their service. A little over a month ago, the kids started getting letters and gifts back from the soldiers.

“It gives me great joy to hear stories like this one, as this is exactly the kind of action I was hoping to inspire with my book. I congratulate the second grade team and students on their efforts to support our service members,” said Sather, who grew up in a military family and has plenty of experience with deployments.

Otis is no stranger to the sacrifices military families have to make either. “I used to teach in North Carolina and had a number of children from military families in my class,” she said. “The kids I am working with in Camden had not been exposed to the contributions and the sacrifice of our military until very recently.”

During the Skype session, Sather asked the kids where their ideas for writing come from, then shared details about her own writing and editing process, including the importance of choosing the words that best convey ideas in the story. She also explained some of the decisions authors need to make in the book making process, including selecting fonts, deciding what to do about illustrations, and deciding on the cover design and the shape and size of the book. The children also learned about the various steps in the printing process.


To set up an event at your school, contact Rachel M. Anderson, Publicist, Boo Boo Bear's Mission at 952-240-2513 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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