BY JIM ZACHARY
STOCKBRIDGE - Henry County’s Betty Brittain, Ed.D., loves children. In fact, she spent her career as a public school teacher in the Clayton County school system shaping minds and molding character.
Even though she has long since retired from her teaching career in 1993, she has kept her passion for education and for children. From 1963 through 1993, the popular educator served as a classroom teacher, librarian, counselor, assistant principal and East Clayton Elementary Principal before becoming the Clatyon County System Coordinator.
Now, Brittain, a Stockbridge resident, has found a vibrant, colorful way to leave an imprint on children and families, reconnect with former students and work collaboratively with her daughter, Diana B. Thompson, a Colorado-based children’s book author whose Dramatic Adventures’ offering “CinderSilly,” is garnering a lot of attention not only among educators, childcare professionals and parents — but most importantly among children themselves.
Thompson’s book, while entertaining to young readers, is intended to instill valuable lessons about self-esteem, interpersonal relationships and life-coping skills.
Deviating from the classic German folk tale the story of CinderSilly is described, “When CinderSilly’s family runs out of money, she proves that chores can be fun, teasing can be managed and ideas are magical.”
The title character is described as “a resourceful girl who takes charge of her own destiny.”
The popular book is dramatically illustrated by Jill Haller and Thom Buchanan with lyrics to songs written by Alice Becker and is available through the Henry County pubic library or can be ordered directly through dramaticadventures.com
Brittain served as the educational consultant for the publication.
When her daughter, Diana, dedicated the children’s book she wrote, “Dedicated to making the best of it, and finding the best along the way. To: Betty, Aubrey and Michael who do it everyday.”
CinderSilly did not start out as a book.
The story of CinderSilly has been performed for the past seven years as part of an interactive dramatic performance that has been both entertaining and instructional. “It has truly been an extension of Dr. Brittian’s career,” Thompson said.
Thompson is a graduate of Morrow High School and now lives in Denver.
An author, public speaker and storyteller, Thompson said she has both been inspired by and learned from her mother.
She said growing up in the Clayton County public school system, where her mother taught and later served as a school principal, was a great experience.
“When she was teaching at Mountain View, it was a transient community and as children were going through transitions in their lives, she would say you can’t control your circumstance but you can control how you respond to them,” Thompson said of her mother’s influence on children and families.
Thompson added, “Her concepts of education were so far ahead for her time.”
In fact, her mother was a pioneer in teaching children coping skills for dealing with bullying. “Good natured responses work best,” in dealing with “bullying and / or teasing,” the retired teacher said.
Dr Brittain said she considers it to be important that young people are challenged to take personal responsibility and to realize their own potential. “Life is not always fair and we cannot always have everything in life we want. We can’t always determine how others will treat us. Children must be taught to focus on those things they can control,” she said.
CinderSilly focuses on those very types of life skills.
“Life can be what you make of it,” Dr. Brittain said.
In the narrative, through a series of challenges, Cinderella agrees, saying to the Prince, “Sometimes life is just what you make it. Call me CinderSilly. Now, let’s go have a ball.”
Because of her optimism and proactive approach to the many challenges in her life, CinderSilly and the prince live “Happier ever after,” but the stepmother remains miserable because to her “life was a chore, a very hard chore.”
As Cinderella dances and bends her arms like wings and sings, she encourages positive attitudes, singing, “Any chore can be fun, tra-la-la-lda day-o, Pick the eggs up one by one, tra-la-la-la day-o.”
Following the story of CinderSilly, the book ends with the CinderSilly Chore School, teaching, “When you say, ‘Life is what you make it,’ you feel like this! It’s like saying, ‘I can do it!’ When you change what you think and say, it affects what you feel and do. It gives you more energy to get the job done.”
Children are also encouraged to find magic in life: “Some chores are very hard. Use your imagination to make chores fun. Bright ideas may be just the magic you need. By turning work into play, you put more fun into your day.”
Perhaps CinderSilly is not just for children, after all.