Marion Margolis still isn't used to the acknowledgement that comes with success.
The children's book author and retired special educator sat with a smile outside the in East Hampton Village on Friday afternoon as she listened to a local mother's excited praises of her work.
Passersby may not recognize her by face at first glance, but it is likely you or someone knee-high has come across her work at the local libraries or .
Margolis, who lives in East Hampton, is the author of three published children's books, "New Digs for Beau," "Sit! Stay! Sign!" and the most recent "Crusoe the Canine Castaway," published this winter.
She will give a at the the on Wednesday at 2 p.m.
Margolis' stories are about dogs and their adventures. The narratives focus on the main character getting into and out of sticky situations. Her most recent story follows a dog lost at sea after a shipwreck in Australia. The dog swims five miles to a tiny island, and survives for months before being reunited with his family.
They are anthropomorphic tales that carry a message to the reader that inspires empowerment and confidence, says Margolis.
"I always try to the get the message across…that anyone can be heroic," Margolis said. "I want them to take away the message of being good and brave, not fearful."
Margolis' stories are distinct from others in the genre as they are based on true stories, either personal accounts from the author's family or drawn from newspaper articles. For her second book Margolis collaborated with her daughter, an occupational therapist, to write "Sit! Stay! Sign!" a tale about a deaf girl who adopts a deaf dalmation.
"In terms of children's literature there is not enough for the deaf children," Margolis said. "A story needed to be told."
Margolis' professional and personal background also help to make her stories particularly unique. She is a retired speech therapist and teacher, and has had a passion for the stage since college.
Before publishing her first book Margolis started Readers Theater, a program which calls on children to assume the roles of the characters, speaking and performing in front of their peers with specially written scripts for the stage. Margolis organizes scripts of various stories in schools, libraries, and other public readings.
"It helps the children's cognitive skills and developmental skills," Margolis said of the program. "It's the whole idea that the fear of reading is gone. Because they're reading in a group no one is going to say...it's wrong."
Margolis makes sure every child can participate, even if they must share roles. For children who struggle to read Margolis will prepare a role with only one or two phrases, in an effort to build confidence.
Margolis is a seasoned storyteller, but originally could only bring the works of others to life, she says. A few years ago she tried her hand at writing her own stories, as a gift for her grandchildren.
"I always liked to write," Margolis said. "And since I had grandchildren, I thought it's something I can give them now, that they can enjoy even when I'm gone."
Once she gets the story past her grandchildren, she joked, publishers and editors are no big deal.
"My grandchildren are my greatest fans…they are also my greatest critics," Margolis said.
The author has targeted children aged 4 through 8 in her previous books. In the future she hopes to write more books for that audience, but also has plans to write a longer story in a novel-style for the middle-school age group.
Editor's note: There is no relation between the writer of the article and the subject.