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'Sara Flutterbye and the Spooky Woods:' A Father's Gift to His Daughter

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Natalie Krug
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John Hallis is probably not the first guy you’d expect to write a children’s book with magical butterflies at its heart. Hallis owns and operates a machine shop in Baraboo. But he’s a dad, too. And when his daughter was born, he suddenly found himself taking on the role of a storyteller. 

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Credit Natalie Krug
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"I never was a storyteller prior to that, but... it just seemed like a natural thing to do, to just be making up stories," says Hallis. His daughter, Leisha, says that while she doesn't remember many of the earlier stories, she enjoys her father's stories because "there's always a problem in it that the people have to step up and do something (about)."

Hallis is now the author of Sara Flutterbye and the Spooky Woods, a fantasy, adventure, picture book set in Central Wisconsin. The book is dedicated to Leisha, with a dedication that reads in part: "For all those times we climbed into the truck and you asked me, 'Daddy, can you tell me a Spooky Woods story?'"

The book is illustrated by another Baraboo native, UWM art education major Natalie Krug. During their first meeting, Hallis read his book aloud to Krug, something she believes enhanced their collaboration.

"I feel like if I had just read it on my own and not heard it from his perspective, that I would have gotten an entirely different feel. When we read stories out loud, we tend to imagine things in more depth... because more of our senses are involved," says Krug.

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