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ALTON - A new Alton-based children’s book is hitting the shelves this summer.

“Genevieve and the Magic Haskell Playhouse” tells the story of a young girl who travels back in time to learn more about the Lucy Haskell Playhouse in Haskell Park. Author Evelyn King explained that it’s important to preserve Alton history and share these stories with kids, including King’s own daughter.

“Alton’s history is so important to me,” King explained. “My daughter’s almost 2, and I still go out of my way to take her to antique stores and take her to local historic landmarks, and we had just gone to Haskell Park that day. So I was like, let me write a book that uses Haskell as a setting, uses Lucy as a character, and teaches children that history around us is so important and that we need to protect it."

King, a fantasy writer, began writing “Genevieve and the Magic Haskell Playhouse” one night in November when she couldn’t sleep. The story soon took on a life of its own. She worked with Shannon Willis to illustrate the book, and the cover was drawn by Ben Harrison.

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The book will likely be available in mid-July, and the proceeds will be spread throughout the community. Ten percent will go to Jacoby Arts Center, 10% to Alton Area Landmarks, 5% to Hayner Children’s Library, 5% to Hayner Genealogy and Local History Library and 10% to the Haskell Foundation.

The character Genevieve is based on King’s own daughter. In the story, she goes back in time for a playdate with Lucy Haskell in 1890. This teaches young readers about the history of the playhouse and the Haskell family.

King also hopes to create a toy to go along with the book. She plans to sew little stuffed cats, similar to the stuffed cat that is preserved inside the Lucy Haskell Playhouse. She has plans for several other books centered around Genevieve and Alton history, including an upcoming story about the McPike Mansion.

It’s important to King to give back to the community and spread her love of history to the region’s children. She explained that she moved away for several years but ultimately came back to Alton because she feels so strongly about the community. To her, preserving and sharing Alton’s history is vital.

“No one ever believes me, but there is no place like Alton,” King said. “There’s so much history and there’s so much growth happening and there's so much progress that we can all make. The community is so involved and so lovely and so amazing.”

For more information about “Genevieve and the Magic Haskell Playhouse” and Evelyn King, follow King’s official Facebook page.

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