Caddy, an adventurous cat, is a teacher in disguise

Anne Higgins, an author who lives in Land O’ Lakes, spent the bulk of her career helping children to develop their speech and language skills.

Sometimes, the speech pathologist worked directly with children.

Other times, she worked indirectly. In the Plano Independent School District, in Texas, she supervised 35 speech pathologists. During that time, she published an articulation kit for severe speech disorders that was in publication for 20 years.

Anne Higgins, a resident of Land O’ Lakes, is the author of ‘Princess Caddy Finds a Home,’ a book that uses the adventure of a cat to help children develop their vocabulary and comprehension skills.
(B.C. Manion)

Now, she wants to broaden her influence even more through a children’s book she wrote called “Princess Caddy Finds a Home.”

The idea is to use the adventures of a cat to entertain young readers, and help them to develop their vocabulary and comprehension skills.

Higgins is confident that the hardcover book, with its colorful illustrations, will appeal to a broad audience of children.

“This is a true story about a little kitty that basically came to my yard and didn’t leave,” Higgins said. “I was telling my little 3- and 4-year-olds about the kitty and found out they were more excited about what Caddy would do every day, than what Miss Anne would do.

“They could care less what I did in the morning, but they wanted to know everything that Caddy did in the morning.

“The response was amazing.

“So, I integrated her in my therapy and found it to be probably one of the best methods I’ve ever come up with,” she said.

She used the stories about Caddy and her interaction with other animals to help teach basic concepts to the children, and to help them develop their vocabulary.

The children’s book does the same thing.

She developed an index for parents or grandparents to tell them about the basic concepts that are important for 3- to 5-year-olds.

She also lists the vocabulary words presented in the book, which children will learn through repeated exposure. The book contains more than 100 vocabulary words, ranging from simple to complex.

She also added a section which lists questions, to help children develop the comprehension skills they need.

This cover shows an illustration of the real-life Caddy. (Dorrance Publishing/Wendy Bouch)

“After you read this to the child, you can ask them some questions, and see if they were listening and understanding,” she said.

Higgins received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas, in Austin, and her master’s from the University of Texas Dallas branch.

Laster, she moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, where she worked with 3- and 4-year-old children with hearing impairments. At the same time, Higgins worked on speech and language skills with students with autism and who were severely developmentally delayed.

Working on the book was an education for Higgins.

“It was grueling. Every chapter had to be reviewed. Going back and forth. I was trying to integrate as much vocabulary as possible. I had lists and lists and lists of vocabulary words that I was trying to put into the story. It was difficult. You have to have some determination to complete it,” said Higgins, who self-published her book through Dorrance, a publisher based in Pennsylvania.

It took about a year to complete the book, after years of collecting material to use in it, she said.

Higgins envisions the possibility of creating a series of books, featuring Princess Caddy in new adventures, such as going on a vacation, or getting a little brother or sister in the family.

The book is available through various sources, include Bookstore.dorrancepublishing.com, Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

Published May 30, 2018

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