About The Gorp Group, LLC
About Gorp's Team
Author - Teacher/Counselor Guides
Gorp's Secret illustrator bio
Gorp's Dream illustrator bio
Gorp's Gift illustrator bio
Lucy Wilson - Baby Gorp Designer
Publishing Consultant and Packager
The Gorp Group was formed in 1996 by Sherri Chessen and Dale Duncan Johnson to address the growing concerns and issues related to children’s exposure to violence. Chessen has since expanded its efforts to include topics on character building education and character building skills, self-esteem, love, diversity, tolerance, and honesty in young children. 2008 sees the birth of Gorp’s Secret which addresses the difficult problem of sexual abuse and inappropriate touching.
Due to the vision of Mary Lewis Grow and the backing of Senators Bill Bradley, Paul Wellstone, and Arlen Specter a resolution was launched from the Senate floor naming October 10, 1996 as a “Day of National Concern and Student Pledge Against Gun Violence”. Receiving national attention and the support of every United States senator and many children’s rights activists, Gorp’s Gift plays a key role in this annual national campaign. It is on this day that children sign a pledge that they will never carry a gun to school, will never resolve a dispute with a gun, and will use their influence with their friends to keep them safe. The Gorp pledge is used for the younger children so they can participate in an age-appropriate way. Visit www.pledge.org to learn more.
Gorp’s Dream plays a significant part of this national crusade as well, promoting both messages of gun safety and tolerance simultaneously.
The Teacher’s Guides, companions to the books, have been very successful, with teachers praising them from around the country. They offer detailed lesson plans that correlate to issues raised in the book and provides specific suggestions as to how deal with those topics.
Boards of Education, teachers, police departments, anti-violence groups, parenting groups, churches and synagogues, libraries are strong supporters of Gorp’s programs.
Gorp, the character, is actually a soft plush ‘beanie’ toy that is available for sale as well. Complementing the line of children’s books, they serve as a reminder to the kids of their pledges to safety and kindness.
Gorp was born to be a symbol for all things good and non-violent. He helps children learn lessons like respect and responsibility while being loving, kind, friendly, and fair. When Gorp isn't busy writing, helping others, or on the rainbow, he lives with Sherri Chessen, wherever she may be. Gorp loved when Sherri was a Romper Room teacher on TV, as she always saw him in the Magic Mirror!
From her earliest days in her hometown of Duluth, Minnesota, Sherri Chessen has been a champion for children and their causes. As a child, she was involved as a Brownie, a Girl Scout, active in the Community Children's Theatre, and then became a camp counselor. Her interests in children continued into her adult life where she was a teacher on famed TV's Romper Room, a mother of six, and a writer of children's books. With most every cause that she has supported or job that she has taken, her efforts have centered on children.
At the University of Wisconsin, a communications major (and one of the first female cheerleaders), she was afforded her first opportunity to work in television. Here she was the floor manager and voice over for several animal and inanimate object characters on the PBS long running program, ‘The Friendly Giant’.
After graduation and marriage, she moved to Phoenix, AZ, where she won the role as teacher on TV's Romper Room. Her television career also included a “magazine of the air” show called Here's Sherri, which she hosted daily at the NBC affiliate in Phoenix, AZ. Her career continued with the shows Phoenix After Dark and then the Sherri Chessen Show. Her work garnered her two regional Emmy Awards, one for Best Children's Show and the other for Outstanding Female Personality.
Her professional experience expanded into the world of radio, including The Best of Broadway series. Both in radio and television, she had roles in a myriad of commercials and endorsements. During these years, she was also active in community theatre.
When her first book, Gorp's Gift was published in 1996, Sheila Wellstone, the wife of the late senator of MN, Paul Wellstone, contacted Mary Lewis Grow, who initiated the project, who then got in touch with Sherri. With the help of Senator Paul Wellstone and Senator Bill Bradley, they succeeded in securing a unanimous confirmation from the US Senate denoting a day in October as the Day of Concern and Student Pledge Against Gun Violence. This day has been observed with growing involvement every year since its inception. Nearly 10 million students have signed the pledge not to carry guns to school or to solve problems by using weapons. Gorp, the character, story, and his message, has been an integral part of this program.
Now Gorp and his anti-violence teachings are an integral part of Sherri's life. Gorp's Dream, the next book in the series, helps to instill in children a sense of fairness towards others, an understanding of tolerance and diversity, and a positive, loving lesson in how bullying can not only hurt others, but can cause permanent, heartbreaking damage. Gorp’s Dream is now a part of the National Bullying Awareness Campaign, established by the National Education Association.
Now, Ms. Chessen and Gorp have created Gorp’s Secret, which teaches children to keep them selves safe from abuse and inappropriate touching. With the love and caring Gorp has displayed in every book, he tackles the problem in ways that are empowering not frightening to children of all ages.
Gorp is dedicated to helping make our children's world a better one, as is Ms. Chessen.
Tracy Atwell has authored all three of our Teacher/Counselor Guides. She's taught 2nd and 3rd grades at Hemingway Elementary in Ketchum, Idaho for the past 19 years. She holds a BA in Liberal Arts and Psychology from Sonoma State University and a Masters in Elementary Education from Arizona State University. She and her family (all skiers) live and play in Hailey, Idaho.
Illustrator Linda Brunson has illustrated more than ten books for children, including The Three Funny Friends by Charlotte Zolotow and Moe McTooth by Eileen Spinelli. She lives with her husband Charlie and daughter Frances in an old farmhouse in upstate Connecticut. www.lindabrunson.com
Illustrator Christy Masel live in Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband, Joe, her daughter, Lilliana, and her twin boys, Vladamir and Kazamir. She received her Visual Communications degree form the Colorado Institute of Art in 1991 and has since illustrated six children's books and designed award-winning book covers. www.creepylittlestories.com
Heather Potter teaches pre-school in Sun Valley, Idaho, and created the artistic concept and some of the characters for Gorp's Dream. Her husband Rick, daughter Breeze, and Spirit, Daisy, and Angel (dog, cat, and rabbit, respectively) make up her household.
Dale Duncan Johnson is a graduate of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. Dale lives in Carmel, CA with her husband, Robb, and their dog Rocky. They are also accomplished photographers.
Lucy has been designing clothes and dolls since she was 13 years old. High on her priority list for the past 14 years is being an advocate and mentor along with her husband, Warren at the Shannon Park Elementary School in Burnsville, MN. where they give the students extra help with reading and writing.
BookStudio is a publishing consultancy that works with businesses, publishers, entrepreneurs, and individuals to create books for a variety of marketing and branding purposes, as well as for bookstores and beyond.
BookStudio was founded by Karla Olson, who has been in the publishing industry for over 20 years. Before founding BookStudio, she was the Creative Director of Tehabi Books; founder of Via Press, an editorial and publishing consultant; and Editorial Director of the Michael Friedman Publishing Group in New York City. Olson has been involved in the creation of hundreds of books representing traditional and custom publishing and packaging. Olson is on the Board of Directors of Publishers and Writers of San Diego.
Pam Swartz is the founder of Cloud Nine Press, LLC.
Her specialty in marketing has been to position books
outside as well as within the traditional bookstore.
This has worked especially well for Gorp's Dream.
Pam lives in Scottsdale, AZ. www.Cloudninepress.com