SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — Todd Zimmermann has been invited to feature his latest children’s book at this year’s Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum Fourth of July Celebration. But first, the Sheboygan native is kicking off his tour of the book Oliver Doodle Dandy at the very school he learned to read at, James Madison Elementary.
Oliver Doodle Dandy features characters from Zimmerman’s Christmas series, Oliver the Ornament. The Fourth-of-July-themed book teaches about U.S. history, explores patriotism and encourages children to treat one another with kindness.
Zimmermann said the idea for the book came after parents and teachers expressed wishes for a book with themes similar to his Christmas stories that children could read at other times of the year.
Last Independence Day, he had the idea for a spin-off book: “I’m in my attic pulling out all the flags to put in my front yard when I glance over at all the Christmas decorations and my ornament boxes. I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be a great idea if the ornaments from the Christmas series came to life and taught the children all about the Fourth of July, about America, about the history of our country and great leaders.”
Another lesson from Oliver Doodle Dandy is especially relevant to the current generation of school-age children: taking a break from technology. Zimmermann said the story begins with the children characters only interested in their devices while on summer vacation. The Christmas ornaments then teach the kids lessons as they prepare for a Fourth of July parade. By the end of the book, the children are content to take a step away from technology.
On Monday afternoon, Zimmerman will read his book to classes at James Madison Elementary in Sheboygan. He’s also coordinating with Operation Finally Home — a nonprofit that builds homes for veterans and first responders — for a patriotic-themed activity called “Notes of Love” to pair with the book reading.
“When the vet or first responder walks into the home for the first time, it’s just the studs up on the walls,” said Zimmermann. “But the walls, the studs and the two-by-fours are all filled with these notes from children saying ‘thank you for your service, God bless American, welcome home.”‘