October 22, 2012
Bear speaks for Tully author
Richard Mickelson has sold more than 250,000 children’s books
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Tully children’s book author Richard Mickelson sits with some of the books he has written, which feature a teddy bear who teaches readers a lesson about dealing with life.
TULLY — When Tully resident Richard Mickelson was selling mainframe computers for General Electric in the 1970s, he had no clue where life would take him.
Now Mickelson has become a well-known children’s book author, appearing on television shopping network QVC three times to promote his line of six children’s books.
In total, Mickelson says he has sold more than 250,000 books worldwide. He says he has penned more than 100 books, but as of now six have been published with a seventh on its way next month.
His first book — “Richie the Teddy Bear Who Saved Christmas” — was published in 1994.
His current series of books all feature the same imaginary teddy bear named Richie who befriends children and helps them take on life straight ahead, he said. All of the stories in the books are based on his experiences while growing up.
“I never thought I’d end up doing what I am doing,” said the 76-year-old. “I think a little of it started in high school.”
When he was in high school, he said, he took second place in a national writing contest that had nearly 10,000 entries.
“I’ve always had a tendency to tell stories, whether to friends or strangers,” he said.
His wife, Paula, agreed.
“He loves to tell stories,” she said. “During the holidays it’s a tradition for Dick to tell stories to the grandkids.”
Two of the books, “Richie and the Baby Boy” and “Richie and the Baby” are directly based on his two children, David and Kimberly. David, a musician in Syracuse, has three children, while Kimberly, who works for the Onondaga County Legislature, has two.
Each story has a message for readers. In the boy-and-girl books, Richie acts as the parental figure, and helps guides the young children. The books are unique because Mickelson has left room on every page for the children who read to write notes and keep a running diary. All the books are written in rhyme because Mickelson said it is easier for children to understand what is going on.
“I hope they read it, write in it and pass it along to their children,” he said. “Then it can continue to be passed along. That’s the beauty of children’s books, they create lasting memories.”
“Richie the Teddy Bear Who Saved Christmas” is a book that teaches children that they should not take something that does not belong to them.
The lesson from “Richie the Teddy Bear’s Amazing Halloween Adventure” is never, ever give up, Mickelson said.
“Richie the Teddy Bear Gets a Puppy” is a story about Tyler and Katie and their quest to get a dog. Their parents will not let them, until they witness the children taking care of a dog at a farmers market.
“The theme behind that book is that if you want something badly enough, you will do what you have to to get it,” Mickelson said.
The books are published through Tate Publishing and are available at many national bookstores across the country. Mickelson said he is releasing a book about how Richie came to be in the spring. It will be the seventh book in the children’s series.
Mickelson’s children’s books are illustrated by Patty Fleckenstein, of Jordan.
Mickelson retired from sales in 1988. In 1994, he decided he was going to devote the bulk of his time to writing books.
“I just jumped right in,” he said. “I worked my whole life. I’ve earned the right to take the risk to do something I love.”
Next up for Mickelson is a book titled “The Wizard of Oz: Where Is He Now?”
He expects the book to be released in November.
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