Students in Peggy Hamilton’s second-grade classroom at Fairview get prepared to try juggling. Daily Times Herald photos by Paige Godden
Students in Peggy Hamilton’s second-grade classroom at Fairview get prepared to try juggling. Daily Times Herald photos by Paige Godden
Thursday, November 15, 2012

Jugglers have courage, and courage can take the shape of a heart.

So says Sioux City author Jeanette Hopkins, who read her children’s book “The Juggler” to second-grade students at Fairview Elementary School on Wednesday.

Hopkins’ book is about a man named Henri — who juggled only three items at a time because he was afraid he would drop something if he juggled four.

In the book, Henri was given courage, which was symbolized in the illustrations by the shape of a heart, and soon he could juggle 10 pot-bellied pigs at one time.

The moral of the story, Hopkins told the students, is that no one should be afraid to try something new.

She said the book was inspired by a painting titled “The Juggler” by Stormy Mochal, an artist from Dubuque.

Mochal later agreed to illustrate Hopkins’ book.

After reading her book, Hopkins taught the students how to juggle.

First she taught them that jugglers throw two, or three, or four, or however many balls they want to juggle in the same pattern as a rainbow.

Students started by throwing one ball back and forth, then added a second and then the third.

Hopkins told the students that if they get too frustrated trying to juggle, roll a ball in their hands like it’s a meatball.

And, most importantly, don’t give up.

Hopkins also talked about another book that she wrote called “The Lady Bug Waltz.”

That book was inspired by Hopkins’ granddaughter who was born with a congenital heart defect.

She has spent several years in and out of the hospitals, so Hopkins wanted to write a story for her. One day, Hopkins said, her granddaughter pointed at a ladybug that was on the window and said he was dancing.

Hopkins husband, Bruce, said they were in the car when this happened, and no one had a pen.

He said Hopkins wrote the first draft of the story with a crayon.