WKMG-Channel 6 anchor Lisa Bell owes Leu Gardens for her turn to writing books.
Son Henry’s fascination with the Orlando attraction prompted Bell and her husband, Michael Loff, to plant a small vegetable garden in spring 2018. Then a gnome statue appeared, placed there by fellow anchor Ginger Gadsden. The Bell children — Henry, now 4, and Graham, 2 — named the gnome Norman.
“They fell in love with our garden. They were seeing results,” Bell said. “They would ask me to read stories. I got tired of reading the same stories. I started making up stories about Norman.”
She has written eight books, and the first, “Norman the Watchful Gnome,” is out.
Bell self-publishes the books, which have illustrations by Arunodoy Ghosh Biswas. Through the books, aimed at readers 5 and younger, Bell hopes to promote literacy and good eating.
“This has been a labor of love, a hobby for me,” Bell said.
Her children adored the first book, she said. “They have it memorized. It’s what they want to read every night,” Bell said. “They read it to me, because they have it memorized. I’ve dedicated this book to them. I’ll probably dedicate all of them to them.”
“Norman,” in board book and e-book formats, is available at NormanGnomeBooks.com, at Once Upon A Child stores in Orlando, Altamonte Springs and Ocoee and at Infusion Tea in College Park. The book costs $9.99.
At the website, Norman offers a greeting: “I was born in 2018 and live in a garden with all my pals. I hope you’ll join me as I learn my ABCs, counting and more with my friends: Brenda Broccoli, Ella Eggplant, Rosie Radish, Billy Blueberry, Peter Pumpkin and more. Spreading the love of gardening and friendship is what I live for — so please join us on lots of fun adventures.”
The book is also at the Leu Gardens gift shop. Bell praises Robert Bowden, executive director of Leu Gardens, for inspiring Henry.
“We love going to Leu Gardens,” Bell said. “It was that connection with Robert Bowden. My son went with a family neighbor. All he could talk about for weeks was the vegetables he could sample at Leu Gardens. It was Robert Bowden taking time to explain things to my son.”