Vail books: For the love of the jungle |

Vail books: For the love of the jungle

Caramie Schnellcschnell@vaildaily.comVail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyFormer Vail Valley resident Moe Mulrooney wrote a new children's book, "Molly the Gecko Hunter," which she read to children at the Vail Library a few weeks ago.

VAIL, Colorado -Considering Moe Mulrooney dedicated 26 years of her life to teaching Vail Valley children, it,s not surprising that ideas for her first children’s book came from the mouths of local kids. It was about this time last year when Mulrooney was in town, visiting locals schools and reading kids the rough draft of a children’s story she’d been working on. Vail Mountain School fourth grader Ben West inspired part of the story based on his own experience at Mulrooney’s B&B, La Selva Mariposa (the jungle butterfly), near Tulum, Mexico. Mulrooney and her husband, Lou Pintkowski, own and run the B&B. When West stayed at the B&B with his family, a small gecko fell from the roof and landed in his breakfast of yogurt and fruit. Watching and waiting nearby were Mulrooney’s three dogs – Molly, Zoie and Rosie – and thankfully West rescued the lizard before the dogs did. That event inspired Mulrooney to write a children’s book about her three dogs and their adventures in the jungle.”It’s Ben’s class I told the story to last year,” said Mulrooney, who was the director at the Learning Tree (now the Children’s Garden of Learning) for 25 years. They gave me lots of ideas and so did the children at Stone Creek Charter Academy.”The students, who were learning about the writing process at the time, suggested Mulrooney include an English/Spanish/Mayan glossary at the end of the book – which she did. One child thought she should include a picture of herself with her dogs on the back of the book, which she also did. The students drew pictures of what they imagined the different scenes in the story looked like. “I believe children have wonderful ideas that we can all learn from, no matter what their age,” Mulrooney said. “I value children of all ages and welcome their creativity.”

Mulrooney decided to self-publish the book, called “Molly the Gecko Hunter.” She is in town visiting Eagle County schools this week, showing the finished product to some of the children who inspired it. She’s excited to show the kids that she “followed through with an idea and did not drop the ball once I returned home to Mexico,” she said. “Molly the Gecko Hunter” is Mulrooney’s second book (she also wrote “Embarking on the Mariposa Trail”) and her first children’s book. She’ll visit The Bookworm of Edwards Tuesday morning to read to three dual-language kindergarten classes from Edwards Elementary School. The free event is also open to the public. Mulrooney will also visit Stone Creek Charter School in Edwards today, a home school group and the Miller Ranch Daycare Center on Tuesday, the Children’s Garden of Learning on Wednesday and Vail Child Care, Vail Mountain School and Avon Elementary, all on Thursday. “Moe has touched so many lives in the valley, especially children since she was their teacher,” said Nicole Magistro, co-owner of The Bookworm. “Her new book is really showcasing what she’s doing now, but it speaks to the kids.”Mulrooney wrote the book for her two-and-a-half-year-old grandson, Kaidan. She wants him to be comfortable when he comes to visit her in Mexico, and not scared of the dogs, she said. “I hope this book will help you learn about life in the tropical jungle that surrounds La Selva Mariposa and grow to love it like we do,” Mulrooney wrote to Kaidan in the book’s dedication. High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or

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