Making dreams come true
According to former Rock County resident Carol Poppenga, everyone should do three things during their lifetime: follow their dreams, learn something new each day and forget about the housework.
The last piece of advice garnered laughter during last week’s phone interview from Poppenga’s summer home in Lennox, South Dakota.
One of her own dreams was realized recently when she became a published children’s author at the age of 79.
“Andrew and the Land of Legs” debuted for sale on Amazon.com Aug. 14.
Poppenga credited her youngest daughter, Trudy Tollefson, for making the 24-page paperback a reality.
“Without her help my little story would have just sat around,” she said.
Tollefson was also the illustrator for Poppenga’s story written for and about Tollefson’s son Andrew, when he turned 3 years old. Andrew is currently 21.
The body poses and facial expressions for the book’s freehand drawings were derived from Tollefson’s 23 years as a day care provider.
Recently retired, Tollefson was able to devote all her time to finishing the illustrations and assist her mother with her dream.
“To be a published author was sort of a bucket list thing for my mom,” said Tollefson, who now lives in Florida. “I wanted to do this for her — to get it done.”
Tollefson grew up in Luverne and is a 1987 LHS graduate. She witnessed firsthand her mom’s continued passion for creativity. Whether it was journal writing, flower gardening or handmade gifts, creativity was always squeezed into Poppenga’s daily routine.
On one such occasion Tollefson remembered she and her younger brother helped Poppenga finish a gift for one of her older stepbrother’s and stepsister’s children. The audio recording needed something special that Poppenga’s two youngest children could provide.
“Robbie and I would make the clanging noise (possibly with pot lids) to turn the page,” Tollefson said.
For almost four decades Poppenga was a housewife raising the blended Krueger/Moore family of eight children on North Blue Mound Avenue in Luverne. She married Willie Poppenga in 1991.
Poppenga estimated she has written about two dozen children’s stories over the years. “Andrew and the Land of Legs” is the first to be published.
“I can’t believe it,” she said. “I am in awe it actually happened.”
Her story about her grandson Andrew was inspired by real-life events.
As a toddler Andrew was sitting on the floor surrounded by standing adults as they conversed during a family gathering. Poppenga said she commented about Andrew surrounded by a “land of legs.”
The story was more fully developed as Poppenga finished sewing a quilt for her grandson.
“I could visualize the pictures but I wasn’t a drawer, so I cut pictures out of magazines instead,” she said.
Eighteen years later, with Tollefson’s help, a hardcover book was made this spring, and now paperback copies of the self-published book are available through Create Space Publishing, an Amazon company.
On its website Poppenga’s book is described as bringing “to life the very big thoughts of very small children in a heart-warming, fun-loving adventurous way — sure to please children and grown-ups alike.”
The book retails for $7.99.