TROY — Students at Cookson Elementary were treated to a special visit from Troy native Dustin J. Overholser on Friday, who appeared to present his debut children’s book, “Imaginary Ninjas.”
Overholser, who now resides in the Columbus area with his wife and three kids, attended school at Cookson Elementary during kindergarten through second grade.
“When I went here, the place seemed giant, so things are a lot smaller than I remember,” Overholser said. “I took a drive through my old neighborhood to see those houses, and it gets me how much my perspective has changed. But how can you not enjoy coming back to do something like this?”
“Imaginary Ninjas” follows kindergartner Everhett who, during his first week of school, receives assistance from an imaginary ninja to accomplish daunting tasks, such as stepping up in front of the class, learning to read, and trying new foods. The arc of the story showcases the gradual strengthening of Everhett’s independence.
“The book is about boosting confidence, and giving children the inspiration to do things themselves,” Overholser said. “It’s adapted from a story my son came home and told me, and it grew from there as my son went through kindergarten. We ended up writing some of the book together.”
“I’m always inspired by the imaginations of my children. There’s a lot of unique stories that are borne from just listening.”
Overholser conducted two assemblies at Cookson, during which he read through the book with students, discussed the story and illustrations, and fielded questions from students about the creative process.
During the presentation, Overholser emphasized that he was able to publish “Imaginary Ninjas” despite having a regular non-writing career, stating, “Writing is something that you have to stick with. I’ve always had a knack for writing, but it’s definitely something you have to push through. The illustration was definitely a learning experience for me, too.
“As writers, we can always take from things that are close to us, sprinkle in a little imagination and creativity, and formulate our own stories. It’s a matter of constant practice, even if you have to put your story down for a while and pick it up again later. The important thing is just to finish it.”
“I think it’s really important for kids to see that writers are real people,” said Cookson principal Stephanie Johnson. “It’s not some celebrity that comes from afar. Dustin comes to us from Columbus and last year, we had an author from Columbus as well, so these are everyday people who followed their passion and made their dream come true.”
Overholser invites the public to seek out “Imaginary Ninjas” through the book’s Facebook page, which the author said will allow users to communicate with him directly.
“If someone would like to order directly from me, I’m able to sign and personalize it for those who are interested,” he said.
“Imaginary Ninjas” is available for purchase through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.