Book offers early lesson on diversity

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 28, 2008

FRANKLIN—Local artist Debbie Agate has published her first book.

The book, titled &uot;Sandy the Seahorse Saves the Day,&uot; is a children’s book with a valuable moral lesson: Just because people look different, that doesn’t make them inferior.

Agate has been writing all of her life, mostly poetry. She has also written articles for local magazines such as Tidewater Women and Images over the past 20 years. In addition, she’s had extensive experience in marketing and business. She also says that her dad was her biggest supporter.

&uot;I had the Sandy story in my head for about two years,&uot; Agate said. &uot;Then one morning I just sat down and wrote it all out.&uot;

The inspiration from the story came from one of her two grandsons.

When her grandson moved to the area a few years back, it was his first time to be exposed to a great deal of ethnic diversity. Naturally, the boy thought differently about people of different color, so Agate came up with a story concept to help demonstrate how people who look different are really just the same as anyone else.

The story is about a young seahorse who is an outcast because of her beige color. The other young seahorses, Ruby, Sky and Sunny, exhibit prejudice against Sandy because her color is so different.

When the three seahorses get trapped in a cave by Elbert the Electric Eel, however, it’s Sandy that comes to their rescue. Since her color matches the color of the sand, she is able to slip by Elbert and rescue the others.

The illustrations in the book were done by local artist Stacia L. Hayes.

&uot;The first person I dealt with in regards to the illustrations drew everything out exactly how I saw it in my head,&uot; said Agate, &uot;but she wanted too much money for it, and that was out of my budget range at that time. After that I spoke with Stacia, who was already a friend of mine, and she told me she’d like to give it a try.&uot;

According to Agate, Hayes wasn’t interested in money. She just wanted to lend a hand and ended up creating the perfect visuals for the characters and scenes in the story.

The book was published through Authorhouse, a California-based publishing company.

&uot;I was talking on the phone with a lady I’d met over a writer’s Web site,&uot; Agate said, &uot;and I mentioned that I had written a book. She was interested in it and, since she was affiliated with the publisher, one thing led to another.

Authorhouse is currently working with Barnes and Noble and Amazon, as well as several local schools, to set up various book-signing sessions.

Agate just finished putting together her second children’s book, titled &uot;Lucky the Happy Turtle,&uot; and plans on writing two sequels to the Sandy the Seahorse story. She is also working on a novel.

&uot;The most important thing to me right now is personal networking,&uot; said Agate. &uot;So many people have helped me get my work into print, and I want to do the same for people with the same goals.&uot;

&uot;Sandy the Seahorse Saves the Day&uot; will be available on and Barnes and Noble on July 10.

For more information, contact Agate at