Shaler woman pens children's book; some sales to help keep kids warm

| Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, 8:09 p.m.

Leigh Ann Hrutkay wrote her first children's book hoping to warm the hearts of the children and caretakers who read it and the bodies of children in need.

Her book, “Rise and Shine, Little Child,” explores the joy and magic of the main character, “Little Child,” discovering the first winter snowfall.

Hrutkay, 32, of Shaler, partnered with Operation Warm, which provides new winter coats to children in need throughout the country and will donate a portion of the proceeds from book sales to the nonprofit organization.

“Anybody who knows me knows I can't do anything unless it is benefiting somebody else,” Hrutkay said. “People also feel really good when they are in a position to go one step further to buy a product that benefits somebody else.”

Hrutkay said she worked to find an organization that matched the theme of the book while also benefiting children.

Carey Palmquist, executive director of Operation Warm, said she was surprised and excited by Hrutkay's desire to partner with the organization.

The nonprofit organization is located in a suburb of Philadelphia and provides new winter coats to children in need. Since 1998, when the organization was started, it has distributed 1.4 million coats to children in 42 states through close to 1,000 schools, churches and homeless shelters across the country.

“The book itself is so perfect for our organization,” Palmquist said. “So much of the problem we're dealing with is (the children) can't get to school because they don't have coats in wintertime … The book is fantastic and (shows) the joy kids receive when they can put on a coat and go out in the snow.”

Hrutkay was inspired to write the story last winter after checking on her son, Xander, now 2 years old, one night, and she noticed the first snowflakes begin to fall outside her window.

“I don't like the snow … but I realized this is the first year he's going to experience snow, and I can't wait to share that with him,” Hrutkay said. “When I saw the snow I started to see it through his baby eyes.”

Hrutkay drew on her educational background — a bachelor's degree in early-childhood education and a master's degree in developmental psychology — and her experience as a professional nanny and mother to create the 24-page story with a playful rhyming pattern best suited for children ages 2 to 5.

She also worked with an illustrator to give “Little Child” a more boyish look on some pages and more of a girlish look on others so children of any gender could relate to the main character. The adult caregiver in the story also never is identified as “mother.”

“It's really versatile,” Hrutkay said. “I wanted a fun wintertime story … for all kids to enjoy.”

The book is available through the Tate Publishing and Enterprises LLC website — — and will be available wherever books are sold after the beginning of 2014. However, Hrutkay hopes more people will order through the publisher, which will allow her to donate a larger percentage of the proceeds to Operation Warm.

“I hope it inspires a love of reading, I also hope it inspires them to want to do more outdoor play,” Hrutkay said of her book. “I also want (the children being read to) to feel important, valued and unconditionally loved, and I hope this book conveys that as they are read to.

“There are no bounds to the potential of a child who has been well loved. And by well loved, I mean hugged tightly, kissed sweetly and read to often.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or

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