Passionate about creating fun experiences for family and friends, Lemont resident Meg Dagnino threw a Halloween party for her son Ray’s kindergarten class that was filled with games, crafts and fun. other activities, including his “Witch’s Brew” snack.
That was nearly 10 years ago and these kindergartners are now in their second year of high school. Meanwhile, Dagnino, who was an oncology nurse and school nurse, is now a published author as she turned her Halloween party snack activity Witches Brew into a children’s book.
The book, which was published last August, was named a finalist in the Children’s Novelty and Gift Book category at the 13th Annual International Book Awards 2022.
“I was shocked to hear the news,” Dagnino said. “It took a while to figure it out. How does this RN prove her book is great without a lot of background support? It was an incredible honor to be a finalist and I hope it takes ‘Witch’s Brew’ to the next level and I think it already has.”
Aimed at children ages 2-10, the book invites readers to count their favorite snacks while creating spooky, easy-to-prepare treats through the adventures of the friendly witch, Eldora, and her goldendoodle puppy, Mae.
Along the way, they transform raisins, candy-covered chocolates, popcorn, pretzels and marshmallows into bat brains, ghost eyes, spider webs, skeleton bones and in troll teeth.
“Kids can really use their imaginations and have fun with it,” Dagnino said. “I like to eat cobwebs. It’s kind of cute because my dog Mae also likes cobwebs, so we eat cobwebs together.
While Dagnino possessed the creativity and imagination to throw parties and had the support of a father who convinced her that her “infused” snacks could be the recipe for a children’s book, she knew nothing of editing.
What could have been a daunting process, however, seemed to come together for a perfect brew, especially after connecting with illustrator Daniella Turano on social media.
“I love his work and it’s something where I feel like the universe is bringing things to you,” Dagnino said. “I think the hardest part was the process of, what do I do now? Am I publishing myself in a big world of publications? In creative development, I knew exactly what I wanted , but the creative aftermath of its release were all amazing experiences, but they were new to me.
Although the Halloween season is one of Dagnino’s favorite times of the year, she wants the party to continue year-round, whether through Witch’s Brew or potential new adventures for Eldora and Mae.
“I’ve always been a big Halloween person and as I raised my kids, it’s probably the no. 2 holidays in addition to Christmas,” she said. “I feel like most families eat this. It’s something different and it’s fun. My dream is to make Witch’s Brew the first of many books on the holiday market. You can make an infusion for anything, for Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day. I feel like the sky is the limit for what can be done here.
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Anything is possible is a resonating message from this friendly witch who, as a mother of two, recognizes the benefits of instilling a love of reading at an early age.
“Reading is quality time, whether in class or at home,” she said. “That one-on-one time at home can really comfort kids. With this book, it can be a night book, and it can bring the family together to go buy ingredients or pull things from the cupboard. This allows children and their parents to work together to create that special memory and do so year after year.
Dagnino fondly remembers the time he spent reading with his son when he was young.
“We were reading and cracking up,” she said. “As a young adult he still reads and it is something that will hopefully stick with him. It is extremely important to me. It’s time spent together.
Although Witch’s Brew did not receive the top prize at the 2022 International Book Awards, being a finalist was a huge and unexpected achievement. What sprang from the imagination of a nurse-turned-witch/author also spent a lot of time on Amazon’s bestseller list in a few categories, including children’s interactive adventure books, customs and traditions. children and cooking with the children.
His creation also gave him the opportunity to give back in other ways for his own blessings. A portion of Witch’s Brew proceeds are donated to All God’s Children International, who helped her and her husband adopt their children Ray and Emme to complete the unique Dagnino family brew.
CR Walker is a freelance journalist for the Daily Southtown.