A children's book author and Peace Corp. educator with local ties, recently visited first, kindergarten and pre-school students at Barnesville Independent Elementary School.

Kelly Cunnane, author and educator from Beals, Maine, is visiting her relatives in Barnesville (the Sam Hunkler family). She read one of her books, "For You are a Kenyan Child," to the students. Cunnane taught the children songs and words in Swahili and showed them items from that country.

Another book by Cunnane and illustrator Ana Juan, "Chir, Chir is Singing," will soon be published. Cunnane said "Chir" mean "born quickly" in Swahili. She said the book is about how hard Kenyan children work.

While in Barnesville, Cunnane also spoke to the Barnesville Rotary Club about life in Mauritania, where she most recently lived and taught English as a second language.

Mauritania, officially the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, is a country in northwest Africa. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the west, by Senegal on the southwest, by Mali on the east and southeast, by Algeria on the northeast and by the Morocco-controlled Western Sahara on the northwest. The capital and largest city is Nouakchott, located on the Atlantic coast (where Cunnane lived and taught).

The world-traveling Cunnane is staying state-side to work on another children's book about how girls in Mauritania obtain their veils.

In addition to working for the U.S. Peace Corps and authoring children's books, Cunnane presents creative and interactive cultural workshops, such as the one she shared with Independent School students, for children and community groups.