Local author teaches children about mining

By Heather Kennison, Associated Press | Posted - Sep. 12, 2015 at 8:20 a.m.


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ELKO, Nev. (AP) — Children's author "Ursie Wursie" uses rhyming to teach about mining.

In July, Ursula Burger of Ryndon came to the Elko County Library's preschool story time to read from her children's book series. Burger believes rhymes are a good way to teach children in a way that is easy to recall.

"We all remember Dr. Seuss," Burger told the Free Press. "We all remember a fox in a box."

As a former mine employee and longtime writer, she remembers working at the mines and talking to her coworkers about their children.

"Everybody out there has little kids," she said. "They don't know what work is. ... I wanted to fill that communication gap and give kids an idea of what adults do when they leave home."

Burger took this desire and wrote her first children's book, "Rocky and Rockette: From rock stars to gold stars," while sitting on the bus. She self-published through a company in December. The story is the first of a multiple part series of children's books, and explains where gold comes from and how it is made.

On July 7-9, Burger read her book to children at the library. An activity making "gold nuggets" from aluminum foil followed.

"It's neat, they enjoy learning about it," said resident Skyler Basanez, who brought her daughter and her friend to the July 9 event. "They know they live in a mining town."

After reading from "Rocky and Rockette," Burger also read the unpublished sequel, "Brenda Bird Seeks Safety." Brenda Bird, a character named after Burger's foster sister who died of multiple sclerosis, gives children a bird's-eye view of various safety gear and operations at a mine site.

Afia Gibby, who attended the story time with her 2-year-old, said she moved to Elko six months ago when her husband got work at the mines. This was the first time she's heard of Ursie Wursie, but she appreciated her son learning about what his father does.

"The subject itself is so important to the community," said Youth Services Library LaDonna Gunn. "It was just ideal (for story time)."

Story time takes place every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 10:30 a.m. in the children's section of the library. It is designed for children ages 3 through 5.

Burger's third book for the mining series is "A Bus Named Gus," inspired by her current work as a bus driver for Coach USA.

"I'm hoping to get the books done in time for the Mining Expo next year," Burger said.

All of her books are illustrated by children.

"The purpose of my books is I want little people to see what little people see," she explained. "... If I really wanted grown-up pictures, I'd draw them myself."

Burger recruits the young artists from friends and through social media. In the future, she'd like to try to get elementary classrooms involved and later donate a book to the class.

Another series Burger is working on is focused on adult occupations, such as baking or waitressing. One of these, called "Will's Car Goes Ding," describes what a mechanic does.

"It teaches kids how to do an oil change step-by-step," she said.

Burger has her books fact-checked by someone in the occupation.

Her third series in progress will focus on pet care. Burger said this was inspired by the fact that she rescues animals and has friends with unusual pets.

While Burger hasn't made a profit yet, she has three goals she'd like to achieve once she does. The first is to start a scholarship for homeless teenagers, because she's been one herself. She'd also like to raise funds for veterans services and to reduce the cost of spay and neuter for families in need of assistance.

"I'm not going to let the bumps sway me along the way," Burger said. "I'm pretty stubborn."

She also hopes the books will go global, because mining takes place worldwide.

Burger is approaching companies for their support. She would like to get enough financial backing to publish and market her next six books.

"Rocky and Rockette: From gold stars to rock stars" can be ordered directly from Burger at wyo_mudpuddle@hotmail.com.

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Information from: Elko Daily Free Press, http://www.elkodaily.com

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Heather Kennison

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