Author’s childhood lends itself to new children’s book

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published December 18, 2013

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Author Jeffrey Schoenherr, of Clinton Township, wasn’t always a suburbanite.

Between the ages of nine and 18, he grew up on a farm in White Cloud — a city about 20 miles away from Grand Rapids that had a population of barely 1,400 people as of the 2010 census.

And on that farm, his family had pigs. Schoenherr recalled one of the pigs being ill, almost to the point of death. It wasn’t until his mother looked after the stricken swine in the comforts of their home that it began to regain its health.

And, in that unique motherly way, the pig was revitalized and a story was born.

“It’s a true story,” Schoenherr said. “One pig had babies and one of the babies wasn’t going to make it. My mom brought the pig into the house, and it started to come around and get healthy again. The pig still wanted to live in the house, even when it got big and needed to be outside.”

The pig, but maybe more importantly what his mother did for the pig, was the inspiration for a children’s book that Schoenherr has created called “Lillie Saves the Day.”

The book centers on a young girl who is based on Schoenherr’s mother, who was named Lillian. The girl takes in a sick pig, using an eye dropper to bring it back to health while providing warmth from the outside world.  

The pig regains energy and becomes a healthy pig again.

It was actually a work that Schoenherr completed a while ago, but it sat on the shelf. He felt it was time to show the world the true-to-life story that was an homage to not only his mother but to optimistic storytelling.

“I work for a company called Community Connections, and the people I work with have traumatic brain injuries, and we try to get them to get their lives together,” he said. “If someone reads the stories, they are feel-good stories. Maybe it will make it a better world. If it makes people think a little bit about animals, it’s a good thing.”

He has written about other aspects of his life, too, such as his father training chimpanzees at the Detroit Zoo or his grandfather’s dogs. The four-year resident of Clinton Township has two children in college, and he said they love the book.

It was just something he really wanted people to experience, at all ages, he said.

“I guess it’s more of an appreciation for life,” Schoenherr said. “Whether it be a baby pig or a bird, it doesn’t hurt to be kind to the weak. I’m hoping that it just makes people a little bit kinder, and I’m not expecting anyone to run around and (say) how great the world is.

“I’m looking at making it a feel-good type of story. When you read enough bad things, it’s (good to read) a nice thing.”

Schoenherr’s mother died before the book’s release, but she lives on in the context of her son’s writing. And one ill-stricken pig was the motivation behind it all.

There will be a book signing on Jan. 25 at Sue’s Coffee House at 201 North Riverside Avenue in St. Clair. Part of the proceeds will be donated to Special Dreams Farm, benefiting the mentally challenged.