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Fort Wayne's Dori Graham Brings Brave Miss Muffet to Life



It was in her role as children’s librarian for the downtown Allen County Public Library that Dori Graham first conceived of a story to entertain the kids of varying ages at Family Storytime. She just had no idea when it happened that one day it would be a published children’s book, Brave Miss Muffet.

Being creative is not a new or unexpected for Graham though. Born and raised in Fort Wayne, she studied literature at IPFW before heading to St. Paul, Minnesota for graduate studies at Hamline University where she earned a master’s in creative writing. Her interactions with accomplished writers and faculty advisors there provided ample opportunity to expand her talents and workshops where she could continue to receive feedback.

“I got to work with a lot of wonderful children’s and YA authors through the workshopping,” Graham said. “It was like a Hogwarts for children’s literature.”

But even with that background, Graham wasn’t searching for a book project when she hatched the first effort that became Brave Miss Muffet. She just wanted to share a good story at ACPL.

“When you’re reading for Storytime – especially Family Storytime where you have kids from toddlers to seven or older – you’re always looking for books that don’t have a lot of words, where the story moves quickly. I was thinking about writing a puppet show for preschoolers, and one day I was sitting at home and thought ‘Huh, what if Miss Muffet was not scared of spiders?’ I decided to make that the puppet show and wrote it in about 45 minutes. I brought it in to try out this puppet show and got such a great response from audiences that I thought about trying to turn it into a picture book. I asked at the library if that was okay, and they said ‘It’s your story, go ahead!’”


Author Dori Graham


The resulting book was written in about 90 minutes, which most authors – including Graham herself – would find astonishing.

“That was certainly not my experience leading up to that,” Graham said, laughing. “I just think I had a specific purpose in mind.”

Graham had maintained contact with some of her advisors at Hamline, and one suggested she get in touch with a new imprint, one that was looking for new titles to publish. She was unsure at first but eventually decided to move forward with them to publish Brave Miss Muffet which was released September 2022.

“It was something that I’d wanted since I was four,” she said. “It was just shocking that anyone would want to read something I wrote.”

She is needlessly modest since Brave Miss Muffet is a delightful story, and the illustrations by Kyle Beckett beautifully complement the text. Now a librarian and teacher at North Side High School, the South Side alum is navigating life on the other side of Fort Wayne’s Civil War while working on a future book and enjoying the fruits of her first one.

“I keep reminding myself why I write,” Graham said. “I’m just trying to experience it and not worry about it. Whether I reach one kid or 100,000 is not what my heart cares about. I keep post-it notes up that say ‘Remember what you love,’ and that’s the position that I always try to take as an artist.”

Visit bookshop.org to order Brave Miss Muffet.

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