Author Rebecca Iacobacci Debuts Her First Picture Book
By Susan LeDoux
Illustrated by Julian Regawa, this delightful story is sure to captivate children’s imaginations as they try to solve the mystery of missing pies.
In this, her first book, Mystery at Heaven’s Hill (WestBow Press © 2018), Iacobacci taps into her experience with children as a teacher’s assistant in the Webster Montessori School. She creates the town’s yearly festival, Celebration Day, when people come from all over to celebrate the unique gifts God has given each person in Heaven’s Hill. In that respect, she said she based the story on 1st Corinthians 12 where Paul writes of the one body having many parts.
Heaven’s Hill has many bakers who create mouth-watering pies. One year, the pies disappeared, one after another. Who was behind it? Why? Grandma Nettie sets out to discover the answers and teach a few lessons along the way.
Is there a real Grandma Nettie in Iacobacci’s life? Yes, Grandma Nettie is based on her grandmother, but so is the pie baking.
“We used to have apple pie baking day with my mom, aunts, grandmother, sisters, and cousins. We had a day when we would get apples. Each had their own job – peeling, or doing the crust, filling them. We liked mixing the apples because we could eat them. We baked a ton of pies, wrapped them in freezer paper and threw them in the freezer with the date on them...At Thanksgiving we would have five different pies.”
What a mouth-watering memory to share with young readers!
This book, listed for Grades one to five, has appeal for older students as well. Montessori schools group grades together differently and Iacobacci said even ten year olds enjoyed the story when she read it to her students. It takes about 20 minutes to read, and one reviewer on the Amazon site said, “The story line draws the reader in and keeps you wanting more.”
But there is more to Mystery at Heaven’s Hill than simply a great tale. Iacobacci said she hopes her book will help children learn right from wrong — in this case, that stealing is wrong.
“Being a teacher assistant, you see a lot. Parents and teachers work together to see that children are taught wrong from right and other life lessons…Sometimes I think it’s hard.”"
Sometimes it is hard for the author as well. “When I first wrote my book I sent it to a friend to read, and the kids (in that version) explained they were borrowing the pie.”
Iacobacci’s friend pointed out she was promoting stealing because “borrowing” the pie was just brushing over the theft.
“What! I was crying.”
Writing the first draft of her story took three days, “with God’s grace. It’s his story.” Iacobacci was off work because of a snow day when she worked on her book.
“I was stuck on how the pies were discovered missing. I knew who took them but not how and why. Then I woke up one morning (a snow day) and God was just downloading it.”
After many edits and various versions, Mystery at Heaven’s Hill finally was ready for its debut. But Iacobacci is not new to writing.
“I have poems published. This is my first published book...I’ve been writing since 7th grade, poetry and creative writing.”
In high school, she had to write in a journal, and when she ran out of topics, she turned to writing stories, especially mysteries. She is thinking of writing more children’s’ books, perhaps less known Bible stories, or books about different life lessons — perhaps on acceptance or loving. Already, her plotting mind is gearing up. “If somebody came in town and made cookies, or something different than pie, they would have to accept him and love him in Heaven’s Hill...”
Or maybe her next book will be another mystery. In the meanwhile, Mystery at Heaven’s Hill is available on WestBow’s website (www.westbowpress.com/en/bpplstore/bookdetails/733535-mysteery-at-heavens-hill), at Amazon, and Barnes & Noble on line. While Iacobacci does not have a website, you can obtain an autographed copy by requesting it at firstname.lastname@example.org.
She believes that “reading books of all kinds is great. The right book builds your creativity. Get kids excited about reading!”