Deb Malewski
Contributing Writer

Norma Cole of Eaton Rapids is a very accomplished artist. Originally from Jackson, she lived in Rives Junction for a while, and then in Eaton Rapids. For 17 years she worked at the Eaton Rapids Medical Clinic.
She started painting when her children were young, as something to keep her mind stimulated. She mostly taught herself and took just a few classes from other artists. Her preferred medium is oil, and she paints on a variety of surfaces, including framed canvas, wood, saw blades, stones, cupboard doors, and even the doors of her own home.  Cole has been painting for about 25 years.
But Cole has recently expanded her creative drive even more and has authored a children’s book titled “Sharing is Caring.” The book was published by Wood Journey Publishing, a small, independently owned company in Marshall. The book is geared for children between five and seven years of age.
Cole has illustrated other books before, including one with the late Jean Kline, but this is the first time she has done both the authoring and illustrating of a book. “Sharing is Caring” took her about a year to write and have published, she said. She just received her first copies about a week ago.
She lovingly dedicated the book to her four children. She also has six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
The book is in full color, and her artwork graces every page. Cole excels at painting animals, especially deer and other wildlife, foxes, dogs, horses and exotic animals.  A variety of animals “star” in the book, including the mythical unicorn, so her talent for animal portraits is well-illustrated.
“It was inspired by the way the world is right now, and all the negative things that are going on,” she explained. “There is so much racist stuff going on; it was very upsetting.”
“The book addresses a common societal problem; people can be so mean to each other, and if the people look ‘different’ in any way, it makes it even worse,” Cole explained.
“I hope parents and grandparents will buy the book to read to their children and encourage them to be kinder and more tolerant of people that don’t look like them,” Cole said.
The characters in the book are based on real-life friends of Cole; her friend Matt and his young daughter, Aubrey. The story takes place in Cole’s own backyard near her lake. Aubrey comes upon some unicorns that have been teased and bullied by the other animals for looking different. The forest wolf decided that he needed to do something about it, so he howled and called all the forest animals together to talk about their bad behavior towards the unicorns.
You can see, and purchase, some of her paintings at Rottenbucher’s Pharmacy and Gifts, Hastay’s Greenhouse, and Linda’s Salon. Copies of her book are also at these locations.
“I’m not in it for the money,” Cole explained, “but to hopefully help improve how people treat each other.” You can contact Norma Cole at 517-857-3627.