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News 6 anchor Lisa Bell releases first children's book

'Norman the Watchful Gnome' inspired by vegetable garden, gnome

ORLANDO, Fla. – Last year, News 6 at Nine showcased how Central Floridians are getting results by planting their own vegetable gardens -- something News 6 anchor Lisa Bell started last in her own front yard last March and eventually inspired her to publish a children's book.

Bell said the whole thing started after a trip to Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando.

"My son went there and had a great encounter with the man who runs the vegetable garden," Bell said.

She said her son's interest in what he learned during his visit to the garden was something she didn't expect.

"This was a kid that did not love to eat vegetables, so it gave me this idea to plant this little garden, and the kids have just fallen in love with it," Bell said.

It wasn't long after that she started digging into the soil with her boys. 

They planted carrots, lettuce, radishes and even cilantro and tomatoes, among other vegetables. 

Then, one day, a gnome mysteriously appeared, which Bell's son, Henry, named Norman.

"We were picking our radishes and he was in here and he protects our garden," the 4-year-old boy said.

So the gnome became known as Norman the Gnome: Protector of vegetables and also a friend to little Henry and his brother, Graham.

Then, one night, Bell said she realized she was tired of telling the same bedtime stories to her kids. That's when her imagination started to unravel a series of stories.

"We just decided to come up with our own little stories about Norman the gnome who was out in the garden and watching over all of his vegetable friends," Bell said. 

What she first began scribbling down on a notepad eventually became a short, colorful book.

"'Norman the Watchful Gnome,' by Lisa Bell. Illustrated by Arunodoy Ghosh Biswas. To Henry and Graham: Always follow your dreams," Henry read.

Bell said she never had plans to write a book but realized she had all the tools she needed.

"I had a great focus group -- my two little boys -- and so I'd run lines by them," Bell said. "'What do you think sounds better? And, should he be doing this or doing that?'"

The book portrays Norman the Gnome watching over all sorts of vegetables and has plenty of lessons for families to learn together.

[RELATED: Edible landscapes popping up in Central FloridaWhy Autumn is ideal for gardening, plus timely tips for success]

"I truly hope to inspire and encourage other people to plant a garden. It creates great quality time. It's fun. I think it can really help create healthy and stronger communities. Planting a garden is one of the easiest and one of the cheapest things you can do." Bell said.

The book officially goes on sale Tuesday and can be purchased online at NormanGnomeBooks.com.


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