When Noreen Anne retired from early childhood education, there was a part of the job she missed the most.
"One of the highlights of my day was going into the classroom and doing story time," Anne said. "That was the best part of my day."
Since retiring from early childhood education, the Cary resident has written three children's books, with a fourth to be released at a later date. Her latest, "The Night the Dogs Took Over," was released May 29.
The book, published by Austin Macauley, tells the story of what happens when three dogs take over what they think is an abandoned home. The dogs quickly get comfortable in their new home and begin their own routines: brushing their teeth, reading books and cleaning up around the house.
A baby shows up on the front porch, and the dogs take her in as their own. When the original family returns to their home and finds the new family of dogs thriving, the daughter is smitten by the three dogs and wants them to be a permanent part of the family.
"It’s a tribute to anyone who’s ever fostered or loved a child or a pet," Anne said. "It’s a story of love … how that can change a person life. It's a story of how responsibility and resilience and love can really make a difference in somebody’s life."
Anne, who grew up in Chicago and the foster-care system, drew from real-life experiences to write "The Night the Dogs Took Over."
"I grew up in the foster system, and adoption and fostering were a big theme in my life," Anne said. "It's made a huge difference in my life. You never know how you can change a person’s life. And love isn’t just for fairy tales. It's a responsibility. It's decisions we make every day."
Personifying each one of the dogs was one of the biggest hurdles, she said.
The book took about two years to complete from start to finish.
"The dogs teach us a lot," Anne said. "They teach us about responsibility, they look out for one another, and they’re loving and loyal. I hope people take away that love can really make a difference. It can completely change the trajectory of someone’s life."
Anne hopes to soon share her story with children throughout the area.
"My goal is to get out to the schools in the fall and do some story time," Anne said. "I do live in McHenry County, and it is a great place to raise children. Reading and getting started early is just so important."
"The Night the Dogs Took Over" is available to buy on Amazon.com and at Barnes & Noble and other bookstores across the country. Anne's previous children's books include "I Spy Grandma," published by Christian Faith Publishing, and "Fancy Flamingo Makes Friends," published by FriesenPress.