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Buckeye author tells childhood story in ‘G.I. Jack’

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Jo Whitmire of Buckeye reminisces about the writing of her new children’s action adventure fiction book, G.I. Jack Back in Action. (West Valley View photo by Ray Thomas)

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Buckeye author Jo Whitmire believes everyone has a story. Whether it’s a 5-year-old child or an 80-year-old senior, there are worthy tales to tell.

That’s one of the reasons she penned the 62-page G.I. Jack: Back in Action, published by Dorrance Publishing Co. Inc. in Pittsburgh. It is available at http://amzn.to/2wbTrPv for $27.

The book tells the story of G.I. Jack and his pal, Scuba Sammy, who remember their days of glory—karate-chopping snakes, moon explorations and octopus fights. Now they’re ready for a new adventure; the kind that toys have when families aren’t watching.

G.I. Jack is based on experiences their father had as a child in Georgia.

“When their dad and his brother saw their sisters playing with their Barbie house, they put G.I. Joe in a Jeep and blew through and ruined it,” she said with a laugh.

Literacy is a family tradition. Whitmire’s mother, a second-grade teacher, brought home children’s books, like Where the Wild Things Are. As if it’s innate, each Christmas, Whitmire’s daughters asked her to create books for them. Written in 2009, this one was particularly important to her kids, Sarah and Ashley, who are now 14 and 16, respectively.

“Their dad is in the Air Force and he just retired,” she said. “We’ve lived everywhere, including Georgia and Virginia. When we lived in Virginia, at Langley Air Force Base, my daughters would always ask me to write and illustrate books for them for Christmas.”

G.I. Jack’s story blossomed.

“My daughters’ teachers asked me to read it to their preschool and elementary school classes,” she recalled. “The kids really liked it. I kept getting requests to come back and read it. It made my daughters proud.”

The book’s artwork is vintage, representing the toys and books the Whitmires owned as children.

“Their dad had the box with the picture of all the weapons,” said Whitmire, who earned a degree in fashion merchandising from the University of Arizona. “The illustrations are based on 1960s graphics. The kids really thought it was great. Some of it might seem dated, but that worked.”

Whitmire – who moved to Buckeye four years ago – said it’s a true accomplishment to publish G.I. Jack.

“I’m super pleased,” she said. “It felt like I captured something, like when you finish a photo album when the pictures are long forgotten. It’s just our little story. It’s sweet.”

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