When Dianna Skidmore, of Southington, found herself out of work after more than 30 years, her first thought was, ''What do I do now?''
Acting on a lifelong dream to write children's stories and not yet ready to retire, Skidmore became a student again at the Institute of Children's Literature and took classes in creative writing at Youngstown State University. While a student, she wrote her first children's book, ''Can You Be Like Me?''
''One of my teachers at the Institute of Children's Literature told me to start sending it out, so I did,'' Skidmore said, ''and I got back plenty of rejections.''
But not willing to give up, Skidmore said she took a second look at her book, updated the story and sent it out again, this time to Mirror Publishing.
Bringing along boxes filled with copies of her book, Skidmore visited Jackson Elementary School Tuesday to read the story and answer questions from kindergarten students.
The book is about two unlikely friends, a turtle, named Tobias, and a duck, named Drake, who were best friends.
''The book teaches children that it doesn't matter how different they are on the outside, it's what they have in common on the inside,'' Skidmore said.
The book's main characters, Tobias and Drake, were named for Skidmore's grandchildren, as well as another character in the book, Ashley the ant.
The book's colorful illustrations were created by Skidmore's sister, Theresa V. Walker. Skidmore is currently working on a book of Bible studies, but she plans to continue her series with Tobias and Drake in another children's book titled, ''Can You Please Be Nice?'' That book will address bullying, she said.
Each of the students in Jackson Elementary's kindergarten classes received a signed copy of Skidmore's book. Skidmore also presented her book to parents during the Title I Family Night held at the school Tuesday.
The book is available at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and BooksaMillion.com, as well as through Mirror Publishing's website, pagesofwonder.com.