SW doc pens kids book

Local author/quilter/pediatrician Vivian Husnik tells Bedtime stories with a capital "B." The doctor works in the Health Partners clinic in Calhoun Square, 3001 Hennepin Ave. S., and lives in St. Paul with her four kids and lots of pets -- she jokingly refers to her home as a "petting zoo."

Distilling ordinary but important themes, like the universal parent-to-child edict: "Just a Minute," the 43-year-old Texas native knows how to hone in on childhood wonders. Hence, she named her own publishing house Child Wonder Press.

In her just-published book, "Thank You for Giraffes," Husnik talks about her daughter's grateful prayer for home, family, food -- and giraffes. Clearly Husnik has passed her love of animals to her children.

Husnik is also the book's illustrator -- the pictures are scans of her own quilts, providing a vibrant coverlet of kids, animals, colors and stitches on paper. When Husnik visits elementary schools, she said, she brings along the book and the original quilts. She said kids love to handle them.

Husnik skillfully retrieves minute-by-minute details from her children's lives, such as her daughter's appreciation of giraffes. In any given week, she said, she has several new ideas for books. A friend of hers is currently working on illustration ideas for the author's soon-to-be-released bedtime story, "Good Night Toes." Husnik's daughter is the painter's model.

Husnik is also working on a children's book about Paul Wellstone. The idea came to her during a visit to his gravesite with her children. There, she explained that she was sad and told her children why. She took it as an opportunity to teach them about the activist-politician's accomplishments.

Still another story emerged from her son's dream that snakes were crawling out of the vent. Her son was happy to pet the snakes and put them in cages, in the dream, until one large snake wrapped itself around him tightly. When he couldn't shake the reptile, he called for Mom. "Just a minute, just a minute," she told him. Husnik thought, "I say that all day!" Thus, she wrote her story, "Just a Minute."

Believe it or not, writing books isn't even Husnik's "real" job. The author is a pediatrician with Health Partners. She also serves on the board of Reading Rx, a reading-health group started by one of her colleagues. Health- care professionals who belong to this group give out free books with every "Well Child" report and talk about the importance of reading with families.

Husnik always loved reading and children's literature. Through childhood, she wanted to be a veterinarian, but in college she made the switch. "There was no question that I wanted to be in pediatrics. Nutrition and reading, that's what I like to talk about," said Husnik.

Pick up a copy of "Thank You for Giraffes," for your health.

Vivian Husnik's books can be found at Orr Books, 3043 Hennepin Ave. S., Wild Rumpus, 2720 W. 43rd St., and Borders in Calhoun Square, 3001 Hennepin Ave. S., and online at www.childwonderpress.com. $15.