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Art Teacher Pens and Paints Self-Acceptance Book

M Gibbons

A Massapequa School District art teacher has added published author to her resumé after writing and illustrating a book about self-confidence. Melinda Gibbons, who has worked in the district for 21 years, self-published “You Are the Perfect You.”

The main character in the picture book is Tex, a T-rex who gets teased by other dinosaurs for having short arms. He wanders off feeling sad and lonely, only to meet a new group of dinosaurs who accept him for who he is. Tex learns that what makes him different is what makes him special.

“It was important to me to write it,” Ms. Gibbons said, noting the book’s lessons on empathy, kindness and self-acceptance. “What’s most important to me is getting the message out there. I’m trying to put a positive message into the world.”

Ms. Gibbons began writing the book when she was pregnant with her daughter. She said one of the most important lessons she wants to teach her child is how to love herself, and unable to find the right book with that message, she decided to write her own.

The process took about two years and with her background in art, she also made the illustrations. Instead of computer-generating the pictures, she went “old school,” creating full-size acrylic paintings. She said this made the illustrations more vibrant and eye-catching. With lively pictures and a rhyming story, she said the book can appeal to children of all ages.

Before the school year ended, Ms. Gibbons participated in videoconferences with students at two Massapequa elementary schools. She connected with kindergartners and first graders at East Lake Elementary School during their art classes with her colleague, Patti Krakoff, as well as with kindergarten and fourth grade classes at Birch Lane Elementary School. In addition to reading her book, Ms. Gibbons led them in a craft activity to make a “Kindasaurus.” Each student had to imagine and create a dinosaur that has special attributes to perform acts of kindness.

During her 21 years in Massapequa, Ms. Gibbons has taught art at the Ames Campus, Berner Middle School and Birch Lane and Fairfield elementary schools. After many years at Birch, she will be returning to Fairfield for the upcoming school year. She frequently uses books with positive messages as inspiration for art projects, and plans to incorporate her own book into art lessons. Copies of the book, already a Mom’s Choice Award winner, are available at the Massapequa Public Library. More information can also be found on the “You are the Perfect You” Facebook page.