Inspiration can come from anywhere, at any time.
Just ask Marthasville resident Becky Schantz, who got the inspiration for her most recently published book “How to Grow a Hippo,” from a news story.
A scientific study, conducted by child psychiatrists and neuroscientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and led by Joan L. Luby, MD, professor of child psychiatry, shows that children whose mothers nurture them early in life have brains with a larger hippocampus — a key structure important to learning, memory and response to stress.
What if, Schantz thought, a little boy thought he had an actual hippo in his brain?
Like her first published book, “Mommy, How Many Numbers are There?,” illustrations were drawn by Anne Mitchell, a friend of the family.
The hardcover book is published by Mascot Books. Local State Farm Agent Diana Holdinghausen purchased and donated the book to all area elementary school libraries and the Washington Public Library.
Dr. Luby read and provided feedback about the story.
“Becky, I just love your book . . .” Luby’s feedback reads. “It could really serve an important purpose for children and parents. Thanks so much for paying attention to our work and translating it for young children and their parents!”
The tale features curly-haired Jack, inspired by her own son, telling readers how to grow their own hippo with hugs and love.
The book can be purchased at K&R Market and Thierbach Orchards in Marthasville, Urban Accents in Washington, as well as online at Mascotbooks.com.
Schantz also is available for readings and has classroom activities that go along with her books.
And Schantz isn’t stopping with “How to Grow a Hippo.”
She has several other children’s books in the works, including one that she describes as a mix between Dr. Seuss’ “Oh The Places You’ll Go,” in that it rhymes, and older books “The Carrot Seed” and “Love You Forever.”
Also like her first book, the book also was inspired by something Jack said. The upcoming book was her second book written, but has not yet been published.
“There’s only one Dr. Seuss, but this actually has a beat and rhymes,” Schantz said of the book. Though it is almost complete, she didn’t want to reveal too many details before it’s published.
She is planning a Kickstarter campaign to help raise funds to print the book in hardcover format. People can find the campaign beginning in June.
Her goal is to get a publicist to help with the publishing side of writing.
Schantz, who is married to Jason Schantz, taught at East Central College for seven years and has been a college-level math teacher for 19 years.
She recently resigned from St. Louis Community College to pursue her passion in working with younger students.
She has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in math and is working toward her teaching certification (which isn’t required to teach at the college level).
Jack is a fourth-grade student at Marthasville Elementary.
For more information on this and other upcoming books, people may visit jacksbackbooks.com.