As a writer of children’s books, for 20 years Jill Sheeley has used her talents to inspire and acknowledge budding Aspen Elementary School scribes with her Fraser Creative Writing Contest, while she has employed her storytelling prowess through the group Spellbinders.
Come Friday morning, the spotlight will be cast on Sheeley, who will be featured on the preteen show “Kid Stew,” co-produced by best-selling author James Patterson. The show airs at 6 a.m. on Rocky Mountain PBS.
Sheeley has written two cookbooks as well as her 1982 debut, “Christmas in Aspen.” Her literary love affair with dogs also is reflected through her “Adventures of Fraser the Yellow Dog” series and other canine romps.
Sheeley’s dog books caught the attention of the PBS station in South Florida, where Patterson lives and which co-produces “Kid Stew” with the novelist. The Emmy-winning show is in its second season and was created by Patterson, who like Sheeley is an advocate for children’s literacy.
“There’s no reason learning has to be dull and boring … it can even be hilarious,” Patterson said in a statement announcing Sheeley’s appearance on the show. “On ‘Kid Stew’ we’re teaching about art, history, international culture, the environment and more, but we’re having a lot of fun while we’re at it — so much that parents might start watching, too.”
Sheeley said she learned a year ago that ‘Kid Stew’ wanted to feature her. She didn’t know much about the program but researched it and became interested.
“Over a year ago they contacted me,” Sheeley said Wednesday, “and said they were doing this segment with authors.”
Soon enough a filmmaker and his apprentice were at Sheeley’s Brush Creek Village home, where the two — both cast members also — interviewed her about her favorite books and the dogs who’ve inspired her to write about them.
Roughly a month ago, Sheeley learned the show featuring her would premiere on PBS at 6 a.m. Friday. The upcoming “Kid Stew” also will include a segment on the Copper Mountain ski patrol rescue dogs as they train to save avalanche victims, according to the statement.
“I feel really honored,” said Sheeley.
She’s certainly in good company.
Other writers featured in the “Kid Stew” series include Judy Blume — whose books “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” and “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” are commonplace on young girls’ bookshelves — as well as Eliot Schrefer, Ridley Pearson, Soman Chainani and Peter Brown.
The educational series also dives into art, science, history and music, among other topics.
Sheeley isn’t the sole local who will appear on Friday’s program. Also included are her dog Ranger, a yellow labrador retriever whose parents are the late Fraser and Maggie, as well as her daughter Courtney’s dog Kip, an Australian shepherd. Courtney, who appeared in the Fraser books when she was younger, and Kip are the main characters in Sheeley’s 2016 book, “Adventures of Kip in Aspen and Snowmass.”
Sheeley’s books draw on the local flavor of Aspen and Snowmass, seen through the eyes of a dog and children.