Hero in a Golf Ball 

Golfer Jeanette Vacca Gilliand debuts her book for kids.

The main character in Jeanette Vacca Gilliand's book gets whacked around a lot. He gets clouted, savagely, with clubs. Gilliand is a pro golfer. She loves golf. Golf for Women magazine voted her one of the nation's top fifty golf instructors. She's also a mom. So when it came time to write her first-ever book for kids, what better for its protagonist than "a young golf ball, pure of heart"? With a big wide smile, he seeks friendship, fun, and the authentic experience of life on the course. Illustrated by Kelly Allerman in golf-links greens and blues and meant for readers age two to six, Skylar's Big Adventure is a sports story seen from a surprising new perspective: "I thought it would be fun,"Gilliand says, "to see a round of golf from the view point of a golf ball."

The game is a metaphor for real life, she explains: "You can tell a lot about a person's character, demeanor, attitude, and ethics" from how he or she acts on the course. "Do they count all of their strokes? Do they ask for a lot of mulligans — a second chance on a shot they missed and they don't want it to count? Do they move the ball to better their lie? ... It also tests people's patience; if they hit a bad shot, do cusswords come flying out of their mouths?" Knowing that Tiger Woods started golfing as a toddler, parents are introducing ever and ever younger kids to the game. "When my oldest was ten months old, I would get on my knees, stand behind him and have him hit little swings with me," says Gilliand, who will be at Books Inc. (1344 Park St., Alameda) with Allerman on Saturday, March 8. "Children have a pretty natural motion. Adults get in there and get too serious and mechanical and get more and more frustrated. Let the kids have fun. Allow them to get their hands on the club; put them in a good posture and have them just swing to a balanced finish. You would be surprised at how well they do." 11 a.m. BooksInc.net

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