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Children's book written by Edgeworth resident has environmental message

| Wednesday, June 5, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Children's book author and Allegheny College junior Meagan Roppo, 21, of Edgeworth poses for a photo at home Thursday, May 23, 2013.
Gabriela Zucckero

Meagan Roppo of Edgeworth always has been environmentally conscious but never more so than after she heard a speaker at college whose message prompted her to write her first children's book.

Roppo, 21, a junior at Allegheny College in Meadville, said after she heard the environmental activist speak, she began to change some of her behavior.

She said she now doesn't use disposable towels after using the restroom and makes sure she is using water wisely.

After the talk, she said, she started thinking about ways to get children to start thinking about the environment.

“So, I thought, why not write a children's book?” said Roppo, a communications major with a minor in Spanish.

She began writing last summer and named the book “Mari and Sheila.” Mari is a polar bear who is pen pals with Sheila, a little girl whose father works in the oil industry. When there is an oil spill near where Mari and her friends live, Sheila makes the connection between her father's work and resulting danger for polar bears.

Roppo will have a book-launch party at Penguin Bookshop in Sewickley at 2 p.m. July 13, when she will present a brief talk, reading and signing. Refreshments will be available.

“I don't know how I thought about using a polar bear,” said Roppo, a 2010 Quaker Valley graduate. “I was just sitting on my bed in my dorm room when it came to me.”

Roppo, daughter of Antonette Campbell of Edgeworth and John Roppo of Sewickley, said she began to think about how scary it was that the next generation of children might miss out on seeing the images of animals that are endangered or threatened.

Her book was published by Mirror Publishing, and her stepfather, Denny Campbell, of Edgeworth, an architect who studied art in college, illustrated the book.

Campbell said working with his stepdaughter on the book was rewarding.

“It was exciting to collaborate with Meagan to bring her vision of the characters, and the story, to life,” he said.

Roppo didn't see the finished book until after she returned from a three-and-a-half month study-abroad program in Spain, where she stayed with a host family and also visited Switzerland on her own near the end of the semester.

When she returned home, there was a big box of her books waiting for her.

Her book now is available though Amazon and Barnes & Noble .

Copies will be available at the book-launch party at Penguin Bookshop.

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or jbarron@tribweb.com.

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