Kathryn Richardson Hood, EdS is an Ole Miss alum, a Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Play Therapist in private practice in Oxford, MS. She is the author of a series of illustrated educational and entertaining children’s books to help parents and children understand childhood mental health issues and how play therapy can help. A life long Rebels fan, Kathryn hopes children of all ages will enjoy reading Ole Miss From A to Z as much as she enjoyed writing it.
HottyToddy.com had the opportunity to ask Hood about her new book, Ole Miss From A to Z, which takes each letter of the alphabet and tells a story about Ole Miss.
What gave you the idea to publish an Ole Miss children’s book?
I had recently moved from Mandeville, Louisiana to Oxford to enter a brand new EdS program in play therapy (the first one in the nation) offered by the Counseling Department at Ole Miss, which is a part of the school of Education. While getting my degree, I would be working with young children ages 3 to 11 at the Child Advocacy and Play Therapy Institute on campus. I thought it would be great to have a children’s book about Ole Miss in the waiting area, but could not find one. I decided to write an alphabet book about Ole Miss and I started making a list of things about Ole Miss from A to Z and writing verses for each letter. I wrote the book in rhyme because children love rhyme and rhythm and it helps them learn new words and phrases. The book is designed to be read aloud. I picture parents and grandparents reading the book to the children in their lives and adding their own Ole Miss stories that a letter of the alphabet might bring to mind. I had my first grandchild in January and dedicated the book to her. I will be reading it to her at Thanksgiving in Charleston. I’m starting very early to introduce her to Ole Miss!
How did you find your illustrator?
The illustrator of my other children’s books is Ariane O’Pry. I love working with her and we decided we could work together long distance on the Ole Miss book. She made a trip to Oxford so that she could make sketches on campus and on the Square. She came during the Double Decker Festival and fell in love with Oxford. She is coming back for Double Decker this year. We are considering having a booth together to sell the books. She does great caricatures and we think that it will be fun for children to have theirs drawn. She brings her little boy with her and I am trying to recruit him to come to Ole Miss. Otherwise he might end up being a LSU tiger! Ugh!
Once the book was finished, how long did it take you to go through the licensing process?
Well, you know the old saying “ignorance is bliss?” Without knowledge of collegiate licensing, I was getting close to having the book completed. The owners of Instant Publishers in Collierville, Ole Miss alumni and long time Rebel supporters the Bradleys, were recommended to me. They looked into getting collegiate licensing for Ole Miss, but because their company is in Tennessee, the cost was prohibitive for them. That meant I would have to go through the process myself or use the one company which was out of state that had collegiate licensing for Ole Miss. Call me hard headed, but I wanted this book to be “all Ole Miss.” That process took me more time and caused me more stress than any graduate course I have ever taken. If it had not been for the encouragement of Kathy Tidwell, who is in charge of collegiate licensing for Ole Miss, I would have never completed the process. I am not a business person, but I had to write a complete business plan, a detailed marketing strategy, form an LLC, obtain a million dollars worth of product liability insurance, turn in copies of the artwork for approval, etc. There are three phases to complete and each phase takes a while for approval.
Ole Miss has to approve the product at each phase before Collegiate Licensing approves it. I had to make some changes that the athletic department wanted. The blue and red were not the exact pantone colors they wanted, Rebel needed to be darker, even the clothes on fans in the pictures needed to be the right Ole Miss colors. The people I worked with at Ole Miss were very nice and very patient while Ariane and I worked on the changes and submitted and resubmitted until we got it right.
The last change I made was to put Coach Freeze’s face on the coach leading the team down the Walk of Champions. Ariane had made up a face and at the last minute I thought it should be Coach Freeze. I had to get approval to make the change. That means that Coach Freeze has to stay at Ole Miss for a long time now that his face is in my book! I love his philosophy of “Win the Day” If fact that would make a great theme for a children’s book.
I have to admit I learned a great deal about business by having to go through the Collegiate Licensing process that I would have never spent the time to study. I got some help from the Small Business Administration on campus.
They will tell you what you need to do, but you still have to do it yourself! I also created my publishing company’s website…another thing I would never have tried to tackle by myself. Necessity really is the mother of invention.
What is your most cherished memory of Ole Miss?
Honestly I cherish every minute of my time at Ole Miss. The friends I made at Ole Miss are the dearest friends I have and we have kept in close touch for over 40 years. I have never had so much fun and made so many lasting memories. By the way, I married a Sigma Chi I dated my freshman year just this August. We were re-introduced to each other by one of his Sigma Chi fraternity brothers who has been married to my Kappa Kappa Gamma pledge trainer for fifty years. They are staying with us for the Missouri game and attending my book signing. We are still making cherished memories at Ole Miss! Many of my Ole Miss friends have retired and moved to Oxford. We love to get together and talk about the fun times we had when we were students here.
What are your game day traditions?
Of course, I check to see what color the fans are supposed to wear! And of course, we tailgate in the Grove with old friends we were in school here with and new friends we have made since moving to Oxford. We try to get to the Walk of Champions early so we can “high five” the team as they pass through the Grove.
My brother played football at Ole Miss in the early 70’s (he was an all SEC defensive end). His friends on his team are like brothers. They vacation together at least once per year and have season tickets together for the games. They communicate with each other on a regular basis and know what is going on in my brother’s life before I do! Our seats are near theirs. I graduated several years before my brother was a freshman and was living in Memphis when he at Ole Miss. He and his friends spent many weekends at my house after football season. They are like family to me also. It is wonderful to get to see them at all of the football games….It’s like a family reunion.
A new tradition since moving to Oxford is inviting family and friends from out of town to stay with us for all of the home games and going to the Inn or Big Bad Breakfast for brunch on the Sunday after the game.
**Kathryn Richardson Hood will sign copies of Ole Miss From A to Z on Saturday November 23 from 11:00 – 4:00 at the Student Union.**