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Moorhead man authors 'Peter the Slug' to encourage children

MOORHEAD - It starts like a fairy tale. "Once upon a time, there was a slug named Peter." Wait. A mollusk in a fairy tale? Well, OK.

Peter Schultz / Photo by Tamara Weets
Peter Schultz / Photo by Tamara Weets

MOORHEAD – It starts like a fairy tale. "Once upon a time, there was a slug named Peter."

Wait. A mollusk in a fairy tale?

Well, OK.

Like most protagonists, Peter of "Peter the Slug and the Great Forest Race" has a dream and a challenge. He wants to run in the Great Forest Race. But he's a slug. And slow - or so he thinks.

With encouragement from forest friends and a creative solution, Peter races.

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He doesn't earn first place, but he finishes and celebrates just the same.

Peter Schultz of Moorhead authored the children's book to encourage kids - or anyone - to "do the best with what they've got."

"You can do anything you want - everyone says that," he says. "Well, yeah, kind of, but also not. The point of this book is you've got to do the best with what you've got. We all have these awesome gifts and some of them are recognized and some of them aren't and that's just a fact. I'm really good at some things and I'm horrible at others. I've got some skills and those are the ones that I'm going to play to. If you do that, you're going to be happy and you're going to do better."

This is the first foray into children's literature for Schultz, a former chairman of the art department at Concordia College and Olin J. Storvick Chair of Classical Studies.

The 100-page book released in September by Silver Goat Media (owned by Schultz) is his way of speaking to children who might feel different and need a push. He drew on his own experience as a kid who grew up needing special classes for reading and writing.

Now, Schultz says he would've probably been diagnosed with ADD, ADHD or a learning disorder. He remembers how much encouragement from friends, family and other people helped him feel like he could accomplish goals despite his challenges.

Choosing a slug as the main character came naturally to Schultz - he didn't consider any other creature.

"It came with this idea of having some unique solution to a natural problem. Look, you're just not fast enough, you're slow. Well OK, look, yeah, but I can do other things," Schultz says. "And then he (Peter) gets creative."

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He wrote the book eight years ago in five minutes. But it took time to find the right artist to illustrate Peter's adventure. Artist Ann Solyst of Minneapolis drew Peter the Slug "thousands of times," Schultz says.

He wanted the book to have a tranquil feel. Most of the book is black and white, and Peter's green form is the only color. But when the tiny slug is surrounded by his friends, there's a burst of color.

"It was an emotional note we could touch when we wanted to," Schultz says.

Calling Peter a global slug, Cady Mittlestadt, the book's project manager, says the book will be translated into 100 languages.

"It's about bringing this to anyone who wants to hear the story," she says.

They're particularly interested in translating it for the local refugee communities so the children can feel more at home.

"Peter the Slug is an elastic kind of guy, he can fit into any society," Schultz says. "This is a welcoming, accepting place and we want Peter the Slug to be part of that."

Schultz is writing a second book based in the Great Forest. He expects it to be published by spring.

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Peter the Slug and the Great Forest Race

Written by: Peter Schultz

Illustrated by: Ann Solyst

Pages: 100

Publisher: Silver Goat Media

Cost: $20

Available at: The book is available online at www.Amazon.com , www.BarnesandNoble.com and other retailers.

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/PetertheSlug

Twitter: @petertheslug

Related Topics: MOORHEADBOOKS
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