Debi Chimenti "Clowns" Around
By Brandi Barnett
Story TimeMarch 2007
By Marty Sternberg
Kid Klown is a fictional figure created by Debi Chimenti to entertain her four boys. During early morning story time, the clown would take them on adventures. His journeys soon became the boys’ favorite story. Later at play groups they would ask their mom to share the stories.
Kid Klown has finally made his way from Chimenti’s imagination into print. “When my boys were little, they loved ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Show,’ ” Chimenti said. “But after watching that show, they would be hyped up and play acting the violence they had seen. So I would tell them the klown story to try and counteract that show. From there it grew into a complete story that helps kids learn to be more tolerant of those who are different.”
And the whole family had a hand in creating the stories, she said. The family moved to Redding in 1997 from Minnesota. In that first year, three of her boys ended up at the hospital, one for over 18 days. Chimenti said the people in the community really rallied around to help her family. Every night someone brought dinner to the hospital.While she stayed with her son during the day, friends took care of the baby and got the other two to school and sports. “In that time, the community proved itself to our family,” Chimenti said. “In my own little way, I’m trying to pay them back, a kind of pay it forward idea.”
Chementi goes to book fairs at schools and other places for book-signing appearances. She donates part of her proceeds to fund libraries. “It’s important to me to get into schools and excite kids about reading,” she said.
For $12.95, kids can read two books in one. Flip the book over to continue the story. Beautifully illustrated, the book is built to withstand everyday use by children. Chimenti worked with illustrator Beej Femmel in creating the book. We kind of mirror the story she said. Beej is really quiet and shy about her work. I’m the outgoing one; together we’re going on an adventure just like the characters in the book.
Beej teaches art at Old Shasta Elementary School. Chimenti works at Sweet Baby Jane, a children’s boutique store in the Mt. Shasta Mall. “It’s fun to interact with the kids when they come in,” she said. She is also a teacher’s aide St. Joseph Elementary school, another venue to present her story. “They get pretty excited about getting to meet the lady who wrote the book.”
Chimenti’s book is in circulation at the Redding Library. It is also available at Turtle Bay gift store, Sugar Plum Cottage gift store, Casual NV and Village Schoolhouse Toy Store. She is hoping to have a booth at the YMCA children’s health day and to have it available at the pediatrics wing at both hospitals soon.
“My goal is to pay off this book and get another into print,” she said, “and help kids look beyond the surface to see who someone really is underneath.”