Author reading, book signing at Graves-Hume Public Library

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MENDOTA - Kimberly Souba, a 1996 graduate of LaMoille Community High School, Illinois Central College in East Peoria, and Valley City State University in Valley City, N.D., has achieved a dream she did not even know she had until last summer.

“People have been telling me for years to write a book about my life,” Souba chuckled, adding “but I never had that desire, until I did.”

Souba remembers growing up on her grandparent’s farm near Van Orin, always asking her grandfather questions. He would often say, “Are you writing a book?” Well, she has and not only one book but two with several others on the horizon.

While her first book, “From Death to New Life: The Transformation of a Soul,” was self-published in November 2020, her newest creation is a children’s book, “A Caterpillar’s Journey,” which was also self-published by a publisher out of Colorado and illustrated by Alaina Selzler of Jamestown, N.D.

“From Death to New Life: The Transformation of a Soul” is a book of nearly 185 poems Souba began writing while in high school and is organized in a way that tells her life’s story without describing specific details of the abuse she experienced as a child. Now a teacher at Tampico Elementary School, Souba has found a way to speak about the trauma of the childhood sexual assault and abuse she survived.

One of the people who most inspired Souba to find her voice was Erin Merryn, author of “Stolen Innocence,” “Living for Today,” “An Unimaginable Act,” “Bailey No Ordinary Cat” and the “The Diary of a Cat Named Carrot.” Merryn is also the driving force behind Erin’s Law, a law that teaches children age-appropriate curriculum about safe touch/unsafe touch, safe secrets/unsafe secrets.

“Sexual abuse still has a shameful connotation where children are made to believe what happens to them is their fault,” explained Souba. “These thoughts are so ingrained into their brains they don’t even begin talking about it until later in life if they ever do. Erin’s Law helps children know they can talk about it much sooner and they will be believed when they come forward.

“I was fortunate. By my late 20s, early 30s, I had people in my life who helped me deal with the night terrors I was experiencing and understand why. It was only when I got to the root of them, I was able to begin the healing process. I don’t want any child to have to go through years of agony and self-hatred before they can get help.”

“A Caterpillar’s Journey” does not describe or even talk about abuse but rather, it helps children and adults see that they should persevere and not give up on their hopes and dreams. In the book, the caterpillar desires to be a butterfly but is told that she is not worthy; she is fat and ugly. She is worthless. Then one day she hears the Father’s voice encouraging her to keep going.

“I was inspired by some children in my life to write this children’s book because they were disappointed that they were too young to read the first book,” Souba said. “I also wanted to write the book in a way that it would reach audiences of all ages. It doesn’t matter if you are 3 or 103, you will find hope and encouragement.”

Souba’s favorite authors include Eric Carle, Max Lucado, Esther Allen Fleece and Jodi Picoult. “I may not have the next New York Times Best Seller, but I want children and adults everywhere to know that they can do anything despite their past if they believe in themselves and they surround themselves with others who believe in them.”

Graves-Hume Public Library in Mendota will host Souba on Saturday, July 10 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. During the event, which is open to the public and does not require a library card, Souba will read “A Caterpillar’s Journey” to children and adults followed by a book signing. Popcorn will be served and children will receive a craft to take home that goes along with the book. Both of Souba’s books will be available for sale at the event or can be found on her website www.ksouba.com or on Amazon.

Graves-Hume Public Library is located at 1401 W. Main St., Mendota. For more information, call (815) 538-5142. Registration is not required for this event.