By Molly McCarthy, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Donna Hart's first published book hit the shelves earlier this year. The children's book, “Sherry Strawberry's Clubhouse,” tells the story of a group of friends, depicted as animated fruit, working together to climb up into Sherry Strawberry's clubhouse. The ladder usually used to climb up is nowhere to be found.
When Hart was a student at Shrewsbury Middle School, classmate Sherry Shepherd asked Hart to be in her afterschool club. The time Hart spent in the club at Sherry's house left a lasting impression on the author and largely inspired the book.
“I always remember how nice and how great that was, and how special she made me feel, and how great it was to be her friend,” Hart recalled. “She and I went trick-or-treating together. You know, she was a very sweet friend and you don's forget a friend like that just overnight or 10, 20, 25 years, or however long it's been.”
At 13 years old, during her battle with cancer and with the help of her dad, Shepherd founded the nonprofit organization, Why Me, which stands for Worcester Help for Youth, Memories Everlasting. Why Me is a Worcester-based nonprofit organization created in 1985 to help central New England families cope with childhood cancer. Sadly, Shepherd passed away from cancer at 13.
“She was just such a nice kid I couldn's help but keep her in mind all those years,” Hart said.
The moral of the book is focuses on friends helping each other out.
“If you really put your heads together and think of a solution maybe this one idea won's work but you have got to give it a try. You don's just throw in the towel and give up, you keep at it. You say, “OK, let's try this.” If that doesn's work, let's try this and if you try hard enough…,” Hart explained.
Hart has not only been inspired while living in her hometown of Shrewsbury. She has lived in the east coast, west coast, and currently lives in Kansas with her husband and four cats. Hart has always had a passion for writing and each place has inspired her differently. She enjoys writing books, lyrics, and poems.
On having her first book published, Hart said it was a long time coming. “It's been great to finally have something published and be able to call myself an author. It's great to have that in my life. It's something I have wanted for such a long time,” Hart said.
Hart's ambition does not stop at having one book published. She hopes to have her second children's book out by the end of the year. Currently, Hart is working on a screenplay with her best friend and someday hopes to turn Sherry's Strawberry's Clubhouse into a series. Hart has started a few musicals and plays as well as a few mystery books. Hart and her husband are currently working on a project collecting stories from trucker's tales from the road to compile into a book.
“I really don's like to stick to any genre. I like to kind of genre-hop, I's guess you's say. It just keeps it interesting for me,” Hart said.
“Sherry Strawberry's Clubhouse” is available at Barnesandnoble.com and Amazon.com.