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First-grader inspires new book, ALLY ALONE and meets Miss America's father

Ally Alone first grade incarcerated parent Miss America new book prison

When my friend, a first-grade teacher, told me about one of her students who was experiencing the challenges of having a parent in prison, I was inspired to develop a story with a character who was in that situation.

In ALLY ALONE, young Ally the Alligator is embarrassed because her dad cannot attend Donuts with Dads day at school. Her dad broke the rules of the swamp and had to leave for awhile and Ally considers lying to cover his absence. But her wise teacher Mr. McBoom, points out that Ally isn't the only student without a dad at home, and that she can feel free to invite another important person in her life to join her.

Through my work with a local prison ministry, I met Jeff Kaeppeler, the father of Miss America 2012, Laura Kaeppeler. Mr. Kaeppeler was in town to share the story of his own imprisonment and the impact it had on his family. His daughter, Laura, has since made working with children of incarcerated parents one of her missions, because she understands all the emotions they feel as a result. 

While in town, we arranged for Mr. Kaeppeler to meet with my friend's student, to present her with a copy of the new book, a painting of Ally the alligator, and an autographed photo of Miss America. 

We love happy endings and on this day, there was one.

-- Linda Baker



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