The Gentle Page

The director of MTSU’s Child Development Center writes children’s literature for the needs of today’s children

by Gina K. Logue

Elaine Mitchell Palmore

The best MTSU stories often are not about splendid new buildings or the official placement of new programs accompanied by the traditional “grip-and-grin” photograph. Sometimes the best MTSU stories are about individual initiatives by the talented and fascinating people who work here. Elaine Mitchell Palmore is one of those people.

With her bubbly personality and passionate concern for children, Palmore is endearing to all kinds of people with all kinds of agendas. The director of MTSU’s Child Development Center, Palmore is writing children’s literature for the needs of today’s children.

In fact, her first book has received the endorsement of the Betty Ford Center.

The Dragon Who Lives at Our House (Fresh Fables) tells the story of a typical suburban dad who likes to drink beer at barbecues in the company of his faithful companion, Al, a jovial green dragon.

Eventually, however, Al grows so big that he can no longer stay in the house. Dad has to go to some place called “treatment,” where he meets other people with dragons of all sizes and colors. After Dad’s recovery, Al never really goes away, but he does shrink down to a manageable size.

Only 14 books  about addiction are recommended by the Betty Ford Center, one of the most renowned alcohol- and drug-abuse treatment centers in the world and a pioneer in the field of rehabilitation. Palmore’s very first book made the list.

Not bad for starters, eh?

Dragon also was a finalist in the Health: Addiction and Recovery category of the Best Books 2011 Awards sponsored by USA Book News. In addition to Palmore’s careful prose, the illustrations of Norris Hall are another reason her books resonate with professionals and other readers. Hall drew Al and all the other dragons as benign-looking creatures instead of fire-breathing monsters.

“If you are in a situation where your parents are addicted and they’ve been dragged off to jail in the middle of the night or whatever, the last thing you need to see is this horrifying dragon,” Palmore said in an interview on WMOT-FM’s MTSU on the Record.

Palmore’s second book, Big Changes in the Crow Family, tackles the tricky subject of divorce in a similarly compassionate, kid-friendly way. Mom and Dad Crow, who have three little hatchlings, grow apart as Mom returns to college to better herself, and the Crows develop different sets of friends and different life agendas.