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In Movies & TV Commentary

Thay Yang and Mark Siegrist teamed up to produce "Smoochy Dog Gets a Badge," a children's story set in Milwaukee. (PHOTO: Ramon Hall)

MPTV's Siegrist pens children's book

Inspiration can come from anywhere. For TV producer, host and reporter Mark Siegrist, his inspiration for a new children's book came from Smoochy, his close friend's dog.

Siegrist teamed up with graphic artist Thay Yang to produce "Smoochy Dog Earns a Badge."

"We make a good team," Siegrist said, gesturing toward Yang as we sat in Siegrist's living room. Siegrist and Yang collaborate on projects at Milwaukee Public Television on Ch. 10 and Ch. 36, and Siegrist said he always is impressed with the illustrations that Yang creates to help enhance the story. He cherished the chance to work with Yang on the children's book.

"It is good content. All I try to do is paint an expression," Yang said. "I like to add some texture to a scene. I call it visual camouflage."

The team effort produced a visual mix of illustrations and words that tell the tale of Smoochy, a good dog who has big dreams to be something more.

Smoochy wants to be a, "hero for a good reason," Siegrist said. "(The book) creates an atmosphere of safety. It creates awareness of the police department and the work they do to make a life better in Milwaukee neighborhoods," he said.

When you get a group of media people in a room, the conversation can be wide-ranging. We chatted about people we all have worked with, and some we haven't, from all the different stations in the market. We talked about the industry as a whole and what direction we think it is moving in. And we talked about stories … the one's we've done, others we are working on and those we would like to get to eventually.

The fun part was talking about how storytellers stretch beyond the medium they are comfortable in to reach out and try to communicate with a different segment of our fractured audience. For Siegrist and Yang, it was moving beyond the small screen and over to printed words and colorful illustrations.

Reading the book, and meeting the characters who are important in the dog's life, one can see the influences from Siegrist's own life and experiences peppered into the storyline. Smoochy in real life belongs to Mark's wife Liddie Collins, in the book the Australian Shepard belongs to Liddie Mae, a producer at WOOF-TV.

In the story there is a reporter named Anderson Michaels and Yang illustrated him wearing a hat on the TV screen. Was this a special shout out to a reporter we both worked with in our past with a similar name? I could be wrong, but I do know that WISN-TV Ch. 12's Mike Anderson likes to wear some pretty stylish hats when he is reporting live from the streets of the city.

Siegrist weaved together a nice story that children would enjoy about a four-legged friend that just wants to be a little greater than himself to make the community a better place. I think that is a sentiment we all can get behind.

"Smoochy Dog Earns a Badge," which retails for $10.99, is a story that young readers would enjoy. Younger ones would like the illustrations to go with a story that is read to them. The book is available at area Half-Price book stores and online at Pages of Wonder.


Otto | June 18, 2014 at 6:34 p.m. (report)

Woot! Nice going guys.

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