Local author publishes children’s book to help teach figurative language

‘The Loppy Adventures of Boogernose Joe: Take a Hike’ is one in a series aimed at teaching language pitfalls to young children

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You can’t judge a book by its cover. Literally, that is, with local resident Colleen Hoffman’s children series, “The Loppy Adventures of Boogernose Joe.” Hoffman’s book teaches children how to navigate the often-murky waters of figurative language through the adventures of Joe and his two best friends — who often take things a little too seriously.

Hoffman, a speech pathologist, isn’t a stranger to how people process language. She has helped children with autism and hearing impairments learn how to tell the difference between a figurative statement (curiosity killed that cat) and a literal statement (being inquisitive can lead to unpleasant situations sometimes). Her background has also helped her create the meaning of “loppy,” which is a made-up word she uses to describe the disconnect between the figurative and literal meanings of words.

Although Hoffman works with children on the autism spectrum and with impairments, she said that all kids face challenges deciphering language nuances and the book also helps teach valuable life lessons.

“The story not only helps children understand figurative phrases, but also builds vocabulary and phonological awareness skills through rhymes,” said Hoffman. “It also encourages children to be creative and adventurous without fear of perfection.”

In Hoffman’s first book, “Take a Hike,” Joe goes on an outdoor adventure to discover the real meaning of the phrase, “take a hike.” Her second book, which she says is due this fall, is called “In a Pickle.” She is currently working on her third installment titled “Piece of Cake.”

Hoffman said she was inspired to write the series after a night babysitting a family friend’s child, 20 years ago.

“He asked me to read him the story, (which he called) “The Loppy Adventures of Boogernose Joe.” He was so proud that he was able to trick me into thinking that was a real story with a made-up word “loppy” and also achieved his goal of staying up later. I told him that I would prove him wrong,” she said.

So, she wrote the actual story – or one could say the “literal” version.

Hoffman said she has plans for several other books, all with the hope of helping children develop their language skills through the quirky misinterpretations of Joe and his friends. One could say she doesn’t plan to “cut any corners” with figurative phrases.

Hoffman will be at the Local Authors Symposium held at the Ponte Vedra Library on Oct. 12 from 10:30 a.m. to1 p.m. “The Loppy Adventures of Boogernose Joe: Take a Hike” is available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble, with “In a Pickle” available this fall.

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