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Shopkeeper's kindness inspired Huppert's book

A caring gesture she witnessed years ago has led Susan Huppert to write and now publish a book about it.

"The Perfect Gift" is based on a true story, Huppert said Thursday. She declined to identify the people involved and the location, but indicated the incident left a lasting impression on her.

"I felt strongly I should write it down, so I recorded it," she said, admitting she's always liked to write.

That was 15 years ago, the author said. She was in a store when a six-year-old boy there wanted to give someone a gift, but didn't have the money needed to buy it. So the shopkeeper allowed the youngster to earn enough money for the item by cleaning off the sidewalk in front of the store.

"That young boy learned the satisfaction in serving others," she said.

Huppert said she had filed her written account of the episode, and only recently decided to pursue using it as the basis for a children's book. The 24-page publication has been in the works for the past six-to-eight months, she added, noting she's felt an urgency to complete the project. It's being marketed to four-to-eight-year-olds and their parents.

A promotional piece about the book from the publisher states, in part: "With inviting illustrations, children follow the true story of the partnership between plump 'Mr. Earnest' and the young boy ('Josiah'), illuminating principles of life as they come full circle...Wiggly children still themselves as they await the outcome of Josiah's dilemma. This meaningful story will benefit any home or educational setting."

Huppert collaborated on the project with her niece, Rachel White, who's back from military duty in Afghanistan and living in Connecticut, she said. White has a degree in graphic design and is the illustrator.

"The illustrations are geared toward younger minds," the author said.

Approximately 2,000 copies of the book are available, printed at Helmer Printing in Beldenville, she said. The book can be ordered at or by submitting $8.95 per copy plus name and shipping address to Homegrown Publications LLC, P.O. Box 173, Red Wing, Minn. 55066.

Last week, Huppert had several events promoting the book scheduled. She was to attend book signings at River Center in St. Paul on Friday and Saturday, and at the Ellsworth Public Library this Tuesday. She is to also appear with her book at St. Francis church's craft sale this Saturday, at the Red Wing Holiday Stroll and the Christian book store in that city Friday, Nov. 23, and at the Ellsworth Senior Citizens Center on Friday, Nov. 30.

"I'm going to be making presentations in schools at La Crosse, taking the project from concept to conclusion, as a way of encouraging kids to become writers," she said.

The author said she retained the essence of her original writing while making some technical refinements in preparing to publish the book. She sent a copy to the shopkeeper, who has since relocated, and has gotten a message from him, expressing his pleasure with the finished product.

"The lesson teaches the same values as we as parents should be teaching our kids," she said.

Huppert confirmed she might write and publish more books in the future, probably directed at children and possibly one about cancer.