By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Clermont author writes childrens book about tornado
Writer uses adventure approach to balance heavy subject matter
Judy Wilson Goddard flips through a children’s grammar book she wrote at her home in Clermont. Goddard recently wrote a children’s book about the deadly 1936 tornado in Gainesville. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

A local children's book author is marking the anniversary of Gainesville's deadly 1936 tornado with her own memorial — a book that will teach kids about the historical event.

"I had read about this history, the tornado and the damage and so forth and so it just seemed like a good challenge to go in that direction," said author Judy Wilson Goddard, 64. "And I knew that would be something kids would be interested in."

Goddard, who lives in Clermont, has written a dozen children's activity books that instruct on math and reading through creative methods. Her latest book and first venture into the world of children's chapter literature centers on the story of 12-year-old Jed. The story begins with Jed writing from his home near Oakwood to his grandmother in Clermont, telling her he's coming to visit on a break from school. On his way to her home, Jed arrives in Gainesville just minutes before the 1936 tornado hits.

"It takes him through town and the destruction and talks about those various places in Gainesville and waiting in food lines and he doesn't have any luck finding his grandmother," the author said.

Goddard balances the heavy subject of the book with an adventure approach, as the reader follows Jed in his search for his grandmother.

The 130-page book is titled "Twister: Disaster in Gainesville, 1936" and is written at a fourth-grade reading level. Goddard has been working on the project for a few years and is looking for a publisher. Once a publisher is secured, she plans to reach out to illustrators.

"It took a lot of research and thinking and it was just write a little and then wait and think of something else, and actually I thought back to my own childhood," she said. "...I brought in a lot of old country stories and sayings."

Goodard, a retired teacher, said she's always wanted to write children's books that teach necessary information in interesting ways.

"I try to take typical things that kids need to know and make the books fun books and also informative," she said.