By Eric Heubusch
In the 1950s, Henrietta Moricz and her family moved to Florida after living in Massachusetts and New York. Moricz, 86, moved into Hawthorne Village of Brandon a year and a half ago after losing her ability to walk.
Used to an active life, Moricz found herself bored in her new home. Out of this boredom, however, she found a new, successful adventure.
“I didn’t intend to write a book,” Moricz said. “I was just writing because I like to write.”
In her first room at Hawthorne, Moricz took pleasure in feeding a squirrel that approached her window, and it soon became a frequent customer.
“He got to where he was used to me,” Moricz said. “He’d come up to the window and everybody thought that was crazy.”
Then, when her daughter came to visit, the two sat out in the courtyard. As they ate Cheez-Its, the squirrel approached Moricz and sat patiently. Obliging, Moricz shared a cracker with the squirrel, expecting it to run away after.
“He ate it right in front of me, and looked up at me like, ‘come on, lady, I want more.’”
Thus, Moricz found the inspiration to write Skippy, a children’s tale depicting a squirrel who creates a friendship with a bird through sharing. It took Moricz roughly nine months to write.
Skippy has sold more than 200 copies, and Moricz explains that it has been a hit with young mothers.
“They come back to me and tell me that they wish they had it in schools,” Moricz said.
The book’s success prompted its publisher to ask Moricz to consider writing a series, but Moricz hadn’t waited for the publisher’s suggestion – she already wrote a sequel, Chester the Mouse.
“He’s finished, he’s at the publisher’s right now,” Moricz said, referring to Chester. “And then I wrote a third one.”
Finally, Moricz explained that her books were not just anecdotes of encounters with wildlife.
“In each one of my books, I’m trying to put a moral,” Moricz said. In Skippy, Moricz explained the moral is that “sharing is fun, and yet it’s a good story about the squirrels and the birds but my ending to the book is that sharing is fun.”
Moricz said that they plan to make Skippy available on Amazon, but for now her two daughters sell them. Moricz also sells them out of her room at Hawthorne to anybody with $7 and a love for a good story.