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Author encourages hometown students to pursue a love for reading

Image of author, Phyllis Davis with a student and her book

Children’s author Phyllis Davis, left, presents a copy of her book, The Bird Whisperer, to Neshoba Central Elementary School student Charles Allen Willis. At right is Davis’ daughter, Nikki Verlangieri.

By Debbie Burt Myers

Children’s author Phyllis Davis returned to her hometown as a special guest of Neshoba Central Elementary School where she encouraged a group of fourth and fifth graders to pursue a love for reading.

She also told students that their voices can make a difference, just like the main characters in her book.

Davis, and her daughter, Nikki Verlangieri, presented each student with a signed copy of The Bird Whisperer, which she wrote with her grandchildren, Cooper and Maggie, when they were their ages. Each student was also given a package of bird seeds.

In the book, youngsters Tom and Liz arrive at their annual vacation cabin only to learn that the trees in the forest are to be cut down. They decided to do something about it in order to save the birds. They were successful thanks to the help of their grandfather.

Davis read the book to the students who sat attentively and later asked several questions.

One student asked Davis if the book was based on a true story.

The idea stemmed from an encounter Verlangieri’s father had with a bird that was living in a tree on her patio, Davis said.

A second student asked how many words were in the book, which Davis was unable to answer.

“I bet you go home and count them,” she said with a smile.

Another asked if the birds had names.

While they are not named, Davis said there were red and blue birds in the book along with other colorful species.

Davis encouraged the students to visit their library often, which will lead to a lifelong love of books.

“If we can encourage just one to do that, it will be worth it,” she said of her work.

Davis enjoys sharing her book, which she does not sell, with children as well as senior citizens.

She said their voices, just like the children in the book, can make a difference in their communities.

She also told students, that they, like her two grandchildren, are never too young to start writing.

Davis and her husband, Ranny, make their home in Oxford and Perdido Key, Fla.

Verlangieri and her husband, Jason, also live in Oxford with their two children, Giada and Anthony.

Their son, Justin, and wife Susan reside in Tupelo with Cooper and Maggie.

The author dedicated The Bird Whisperer to “all the family and friends who supported my longtime dream of writing a book along my journey in life.”

Davis’ career in property management spans over 35 years as an owner of BHC Property Management LLC.