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Local bocce expert pens counting book for children

Date: 12/23/2010

Dec. 27, 2010

By Debbie Gardner

Assistant Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD -- Well-known South End entrepreneur and bocce enthusiast Rico Daniele said he found the inspiration for his latest project, a children's counting book called "Laurie's Crooked Snowman," in a photograph of his good friend, Laurie Ann Coughlin, taken in the winter of 1963.

"I found [the photo] at the house and I was picking on her [saying] that her snowman was crooked," Daniele said of the photo of an 11-year-old Laurie that graces the book's cover.

The picture got him thinking about kids and how they don't get together and play outdoors any more the way children did when he and Laurie were young. About how he, as a young Italian kid, used to go with his dad to the Portuguese Club to watch the men play bocce.

It got him thinking about kids and different cultures and languages, and the next thing he knew, he was enlisting the help of another friend and Mom & Rico's customer, Christine Arnold, to help him put his ideas down on paper and then, create a manuscript on her computer.

A year later, Daniele has a slim volume that shows children how to say "hello" and count to 12 in 12 languages Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, English, Arabic, Hindi, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, German, French, Korean, Latin and Italian all using the theme of building a snowman as a counting device.

Research for the text of the book, Daniele said, was done at the local library and on the Internet. The illustrations for the snowman were done by another friend, 86-year-old Mario Fiore.

"He's been drawing for years," Daniele said. "He's the best."

Daniele worked through Indiana-based AuthorHouse, a self-publishing service for writers, to turn his manuscript into a hard-cover book.

His goal with the book is to show children that "we all have to work together," and that beneath our cultural differences, we're really all the same. We all say "hello," we all count, we all play, we all have fun, he said.

He also encourages children to be creative, leaving sketches of the snowman blank in some instances so kids can color the drawing themselves. There's even a blank page where he encourages young readers to draw their own showman.

On a final page he even tells them to "go out and play!"

The book is available online at, or at Mom & Rico's at 899 Main St. in the city's South End. Daniele's price is $14.95. "AuthorHouse wanted me to charge $19.95, but I'm charging $14.95," he said.

His biggest sale so far has been 32 copies to a kindergarten teacher who came up to his store from Connecticut.

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