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Authors inspire elementary school students to ‘dream big’

(Photo Courtesy/Mike Beiermeister) Students pose with author's Tracy Foster and Shannon Cooper-Toma.

Alpena, Mich. — Students at Hinks Elementary got a visit from some special guests this afternoon.

The authors of “Benson’s Adventures in Michigan” and “Benson’s Seasonal Adventures in Michigan” stopped by an spoke to classes. The popular book features a turtle that travels to different locations throughout the state, writing postcards to detail his travels. Students are encouraged to write in postcards to help with learning.

Author’s Tracy Foster and Shannon Cooper-Toma talked about the books, leaving children with one key message.

“Our mission is really to help students to dream big,” said Toma. “We really want students to know that Michigan and our nation has a world of opportunities waiting for them.”

Both Toma, Foster, and the students they invite on the adventures have logged thousands of miles, developing the story for the travels for readers to enjoy in the books. The books have been seen by folks all throughout the Great Lakes State and even featured on Good Morning America. Celebrities have been featured in the pages like Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo and GMA’s Ginger Zee. The authors are planning a third book based on Benson’s adventures in the United States which will come out in June of 2019.

“We want them to dream big and really pursue their passions, and so if students can’t travel to the actual locations, they can travel through the pages of our book,” said Toma.

With all of the success, Benson’s Literacy Foundation was created. Over 5,000 of the books have been donated back to students in Michigan classrooms in the last year.

To learn more about the book and to purchase, visit To learn more about the literacy foundation, visit