Local author follows her heart | ParkRecord.com

Local author follows her heart

Alisha Self, Of the Record staff

When Jayanne Sindt was a little girl, she told her mother that she had been a polar bear in a past life.

Years later, she attended a Lakota spiritual ceremony to discover her heart’s true desire. In the process, she was given the name "White Bear Walking North," or "North Bear."

The irony was not lost on her.

Sindt realized that what she really wanted to do was write, and she started to develop her made-to-order poetry business, Personal Verse.

The experience also sparked an unexpected project. Sindt, who lives in Peoa, started waking up in the middle of the night with ideas about a children’s book featuring a polar bear and his journey to find his destiny.

"I opened my heart and mind, and the story just spilled out," she says.

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Sindt asked Jim Hawks, a poet and artist she had met at a networking group, if he could draw polar bears. Hawks, who had never illustrated a children’s book, came back with a sketch that was exactly what Sindt had in mind.

In February, the duo self-published the first editions of "Mato Finds True North," a picture book for children of all ages.

The central character is Mato, whose name is derived from the Lakota work for bear, "matho" (pronounced mah-TOE). As he lumbers around the North Pole, Mato questions something his nana told him, "Follow your true north."

His story is told in Sindt’s unique style of rhythmic rhyme and accompanied by Hawks’ endearing illustrations. The message is that it’s always best to follow your heart.

The book also teaches readers about polar bears, which remain one of Sindt’s favorite subjects.

"One thing that’s very important to me is to stay true to polar bears," she says. She wants to debunk a popular image in children’s books of polar bears interacting with penguins. Polar bears live in the North Pole and penguins live in the South Pole. "I really want to clear that up," she says.

Sindt and Hawks are in the process of marketing "Mato Finds True North" on both local and national levels.

On Wednesday, May 5, the author will host storytime and sign copies at the Summit County Library at Kimball Junction at 2:30 p.m.

The book is available at Expanding Heart, 505 Main St., and on Amazon.com in a 5.5 by 7-inch soft cover or a limited edition hardcover. Mato has a Facebook fan page and Sindt is considering merchandising options such as T-shirts and stuffed animals.

She is also working on a young adult novel that features Mato in a more detailed, complex story. The book, tentatively titled "True North," is geared toward ages 10 and older and Sindt hopes to have it published in the fall.

She says there may be a sequel to the children’s book coming down the pipeline as well. She plans to continue to tell Mato’s stories as long as they keep waking her up in the middle of the night.

For more information about the author and the illustrator, visit http://personalizedpoems.org and http://www.jimhawks.com . To find our more about Mato and to purchase a copy of the book, visit http://matofindstruenorth.info.