Parents have been reading nursery rhymes and fairy tales to their children for generations, using them to educate kids on life’s values or even to simply help them fall asleep.

Local resident Janet Heavin is continuing the tradition of reading these stories to her grandchildren, but putting her own spin on them, and she hopes her children’s book, “Mary’s Neighborhood,” will bring the stories to a new generation of kids, while letting older ones experience the stories again.

Janet said she came up with the idea for “Mary’s Neighborhood,” one morning without any planning,

“I never thought about writing a children’s book or any type of book,” she said. “I woke up one morning with this idea running through my head…I started writing every day and all the sudden I had my book.”

Janet said she was thinking about old nursery rhymes she read when she was a kid, and though it would be fun to put a new twist to it. She combined several different stories and rhymes, and one day Mary and her neighborhood came together.

“It’s a simple little book. It’s not scary, no big bad wolves or anything like that,” Janet said. “It’s just about this little girl that does nice things. The point is trying to get kids to be nice, to realize you don’t have to be bullying people, and it’s nicer to just live a quiet, simple life. That’s what the point is supposed to be.”

When reading to their young children, parents can recognize elements of Little Red Riding Hood, Old MacDonald, and other classics while their kids learn them for the first time. Janet said she hopes that as kids who read her book grow older, they’ll learn the original stories as well and gain a new appreciation for them. Mary herself is a creation of Janet’s, with whom readers, especially girls, can identify as she introduces them to the colorful cast of characters surrounding her.

Janet said writing “Mary’s Neighborhood” took her about a week after she decided she wanted to follow through with publishing it. She explained she had written some small, inspirational things in the past, but this was the first time she really wanted to put her writing in print.

“I just felt like I was supposed to,” she said. “My husband actually tried to talk me out of it at first, but I kept feeling like I had to do it.”

Janet also doesn’t take all the credit for the book’s completion.

“I said it was a God thing, because it just came to me,” she said. “I wasn’t thinking about writing a book so I just give God the credit.”

This philosophy was made even more true when Janet ended up using Christian Faith Publishing to put her book in print. She said she was originally working with a group in Texas, but was glad she made the switch.

“When they (The Texas publishing group) sent the contract, even I could tell there was stuff in there that didn’t sit right,” she said. When she saw Christian Faith Publishing advertised locally, she decided to give them a shot, and made the commitment when she saw their contract.

Mary was given a face by the publishing company, who gave the book a watercolor, vintage charm, according to Janet. And readers can enjoy the illustrations as they follow Mary through her neighborhood, showing bits and pieces of the old rhymes and stories just before she meets her prince.

Now that people can visit Mary in her neighborhood, Janet said she doesn’t have another book in mind, but didn’t shut down the idea of writing another one.

“I’m not planning on writing another one, but I wasn’t planning on writing this one either,” she said.

Janet said she’s happy knowing “Mary’s Neighborhood” is out there.

“I’ll know there’s a little bit of me, out in different places,” she said.

Locals can find copies of her book at Rolla Books and Toys and the Mule Trading Post.