For years, Melissa Davis, a speech pathologist at LakeMed Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Painesville, has enjoyed taking photographs of a mallard duck family that visits the courtyard of the facility each spring.
Until now, the close-up photos taken by the Eastlake mother of two were simply enjoyed in albums by her family, friends and residents of LakeMed.
But a year ago, when a resident urged her to take her work one step further and write a book featuring her photos, Davis decided to give it a shot.
The result is “Denny the Duck,” her first children’s book, which will be released Nov. 15.
The book was published through Publish America, a Maryland-based company that, unlike others, does not charge an author but prints copies of books only on demand.
“Denny the Duck” tells the story of a duckling that learns how to stay safe by not talking to strangers, staying near his parents and not going swimming alone.
Each page features a different photograph of the most recent brood of fuzzy yellow ducklings at LakeMed, often with their mother.
“Having the photographs made writing the book so easy and made it all come together,” Davis said. “It only took me eight hours to write because in each photograph it actually looked like the ducks were saying something!”
Employees and residents of LakeMed believe the same male and female duck have been making their nest under a window in the courtyard for at least 13 years.
Each spring, after the mother has her babies, the staff places a small wading pool in the courtyard with a ramp leading into it, making it easy for the ducklings to climb in and cool off with their parents.
“We’ve got it down to a T,” Davis said. “They always come around Mother’s Day and lay their eggs and they are here through September. The residents absolutely love it, they come out here and sit and the ducks run around their feet. It’s really calming and nice.”
The residents and employees are excited about the release of her book.
Pamela Pahel, a registered nurse at LakeMed, said if her 9-year-old son Tyler’s reaction is any indication, the book will be a success.
“My son had no interest in reading,” Pahel, of Painesville, explained. “I would try, but he just never wanted to read. But when I showed him “Denny the Duck” and he saw the photos of the ducks, he couldn’t put it down. He read it three or four times over one weekend. For him, to see those ducks in the book was so exciting.”
Inspired by such reactions, Davis is already working on a second “Denny the Duck” book, which will explore the topic of bullying.
Her two children, Hannah, 8 and Brandon, 5, are giving their input to that book, which will feature more photographs of the duck family.
“I want the books to be interactive and fun for kids,” Davis said. “It’s so nice when I hear from people that their children are enjoying it.”
“Denny the Duck” will be available for purchase through www.amazon.com; www.barnesandnoble.com; www.borders.com; www.publishamerica.com and www.melissadavisbook.com.