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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

Sikeston native is living her dream

Sunday, September 15, 2002

Ann Thompson, children's librarian, reads Darlene W. Hatcher's "Little Eaglet Loses Her Feathers" to children.Her
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Sikeston, Mo., native Darlene W. Hatcher has always wanted to leave something of value behind for her family heritage. Now she's living her dream.

Hatcher recently celebrated the publication of her first book, Little Eaglet Loses Her Feathers, of her children's book series The Adventures of Little Eaglet.

"I've always loved writing," Hatcher said. "I've published poetry before, but I found my niche in children's books."

Hatcher began writing children's books in 1994. Her children's book series, geared to the kindergarten through third grade reading levels, is about a little eagle who experiences many adventures as she discovers life. In the book published, Little Eaglet begins losing her feathers, which makes her very upset. Not knowing it's a natural thing for eagles to do, Little Eaglet learns how to deal with the change as the book progresses.

Hatcher is the daughter of a well-known former Sikeston couple, Elva Hatcher of Colorado Springs and the late Wade Hatcher. Hatcher's parents owned Wade's Food Mart, located on the corner of Helen and Warner Streets in Sikeston. Hatcher's father cut meat for many of the restaurants in town.

Wade Hatcher died in July 1974, and in 1981, Hatcher, her brother Steve Hatcher of Denver and their mother moved to their mother's hometown of Colorado Springs.

Although she was 14 when her family left, Hatcher has always kept a special place in her heart for Sikeston.

"Sikeston will always be my home," Hatcher said. "All of my memories of my dad are there, and I visit often."

Hatcher said every time she comes to Sikeston, she spends a few hours in the field across from the empty lot where Wade's Food Mart once stood. Hatcher was playing in that same field on the evening her father took his last breath, she said.

Hatcher is also preserving her family history by incorporating her family members' names into her books. For example, in Little Eaglet Loses Her Feathers, the teacher named Ms. Lorraine is the name of her dad's mother. She also uses her nephew's name in another upcoming book.

It took Hatcher approximately three weeks to write Little Eaglet Loses Her Feathers. "Once a story idea grabs me, the idea flows until it's done. It's like a water faucet. The water flows until it's finished running through the system," she explained.

Another passion that drives Hatcher to continue writing children's books is the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation. It's a national non-profit membership organization whose mission is to educate, support, serve and advocate for families of children with cancer, survivors of childhood cancer and the professionals who care for them.

In 1997, Hatcher and her company, Eagle Vision Industries, worked hand-in-hand with the organization. As an outreach, Hatcher and her colleagues did a live story time with children fighting cancer.

"My goal is to visit these kids and have a live story time with them. I want to have a positive impact on these kids who are hurting," Hatcher said.

Knowing that little kids are lying in a hospital bed all by themselves because their parents must work to pay for the medical bills just breaks her heart, she said. She would like children to seek comfort from her books.

"I want to make Little Eaglet a household name," Hatcher added.

Although Hatcher is a full-time senior loan officer at Pikes Peak National Bank in Colorado Springs, she has already written 14 books for her Little Eaglet series. Other titles such as Little Eaglet and the United States of America, Little Eaglet Goes to Summer Camp and Little Eaglet and the Tadpole are expected to be available soon.

"I miss my dad beyond words of description," Hatcher said. "It means the world to me to honor him and my hometown by leaving a treasure for the Hatcher family."

Those interested in purchasing Little Eaglet Loses Her Feathers may visit a local Barnes and Noble bookstore or their Web site at www.barnesandnoble.com.

Purchases can also be made by e-mailing Hatcher at dlittleeaglet@aol.com. Hatcher said she would be happy to personalize any books ordered from the area. The book is also available for checkout at the Sikeston Public Library.