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Smithfield writer shows kids how to find meaning in small things

By Glenn Laxton

It was a sad day when 5-year-old Giada Lanzieri’s pet rabbit, Skipper, died on Super Bowl Sunday. Mom, Kerri, a writer and social worker in the Smithfield school system tried to find a book that would help with Giada’s grieving. When none could be found, she and Giada sat down and wrote one, “The Day Skipper Went To Heaven”. It is a children’s book on how to process the death of a pet.

“It helped with my daughter’s grieving and a part of my brain opened up a passion for writing,” she explains.

Kerri has written a new children’s book, “Rhody Ram’s Rhode Island Adventure”, about the school’s mascot at URI, where she graduated before earning her Master of Social Work at Simmons College in Boston.

Raised in East Greenwich, Kerri works at two elementary schools in Smithfield as a social worker. She uses books in counseling sessions and loans them to parents. Now she has her own self-published books – 10 more waiting publication by Mascot Books of Herndon, Virginia.

“Rhody Ram’s Rhode Island Adventure” follows the school’s mascot as he travels the state trying to prove that even the smallest state can be the best. He visits places like Narragansett, Newport, Roger Williams Zoo and even WaterFire. In the end he proves his boast to himself. Next for Kerri is a story about the Providence College mascot, Friar.

“Kids have written to me after reading the book, telling me they’ve learned valuable lessons about how the smallest things in life can be the best and to appreciate tiny things.”

Kerri’s dream is to combine her social work career with writing to help children process difficult times.

Her long-range plan with children’s books is to deal with social, emotional things that are hard for kids to talk about.

“Watching a grandparent dying or fighting Alzheimer’s and losing a sibling before it is born, all tough for them,” she said.

Kerri was inspired to write a book about a frightened pigeon after the Boston marathon bombing while she was at a New Kids on the Block concert.

There are a lot of books in Kerri’s ‘bullpen,’ as she refers to her work. She is lucky to have found a publisher who is interested in the subjects. She credits local writer Kevin Mulhern, author of “Cody the Cloud” for advice, and for putting her in touch with his publisher. She also receives support from her husband, Robert, and her 3-year-old daughter, Lucia.

About Robert’s support, Kerri says, “How many wives suddenly decide to become an author at 40?”

Kerri has several book signings coming up. Information can be found on her Twitter: @lanzieri_kerri.