Longtime CUSD teacher writes children’s book

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by Andrew Alonzo | [email protected]

For the past 34 years, Marisa Nicely has taught elementary students in the Claremont Unified School District. And although she retired a year ago, her passion for helping children has not yet ceased.

Now the author of “Ezer the Bagel: The Rescue,” the first in a new series of children’s books, Nicely hopes to continue teaching younger children.

“Ezer the Bagel: The Rescue,” illustrated by Priya Kakati, was released October 10 via Nicely Publishing with assistance from the City of Claremont. The book tells the story of the undying bond between Nicely and his mixed-breed basset/beagle, Ezer.

It begins in early December 2019, when three-month-old Ezer was found on a cold Pomona street by a volunteer from the Inland Valley Humane Society. After the shelter groomed him for adoption, he emailed locals describing the uniquely mixed white and brown pup.

Although she is still heartbroken over the recent loss of her 15-year-old basset hound, Rocky, Nicely responded to the email. She officially adopted the puppy on December 13.

She named it Ezer, which means “helper” in Hebrew, but quickly adopted the nickname “bagel” since it is a hybrid between the beagle and the basset hound.

Longtime CUSD teacher and now children’s book author Marisa Nicely smiles with her dog Ezer recently at Sycamore Elementary School. MAIL/Photo Andrew Alonzo

After a short period of preparation for her new home and her new owner, the two began a turbulent first few months together.

“I almost lost it,” Nicely said. “When he was given to me he had a very, very bad case of pneumonia. The chances weren’t good. He wasn’t doing well. It was tough and I was working as a teacher full time so he literally needed friends who came to help him.

There have been many sleepless nights, both at home and at the vet. It looked like Ezer wasn’t going to make it, but with his mother and new friends by his side, he did.

Since recovering in mid-2020, the duo’s daily routine has been to eat lunch together before heading out for a short morning walk. In the afternoon, Nicely teaches Spanish to students online via nicelyspanish.com while Ezer lies at her feet. Before dusk, they take another walk, which usually ends with Ezer hunting lizards to exhaustion.

Their favorite places to walk are Sycamore and Mountain View Elementary Schools in Claremont, the Village and Excellence In Education in Monrovia.

“He loves picking up leftovers from the floor,” Nicely said, noting Ezer’s affinity for Crème Bakery, House of Pong and 42nd Street Bagel.

Over time, Nicely noticed the community’s love for Ezer as passers-by gave him pets or snacks. Seeing the community stop for Ezer – especially the children – reminded him of his students and seeded the idea of ​​turning their story into a series of children’s books.

“Ezer the Bagel: The Rescue” took over a year to complete and went through numerous rounds of edits before hitting store shelves last month. It is meant to teach how to find and embrace self-esteem.

“It has a message that will basically help kids gain an understanding of self-worth and self-worth,” Nicely said. “Being an educator for so long, I’ve noticed that over the years, every year, I feel like there’s more and more difficulty or challenges for kids to really understand what’s they were created. It is a big challenge for them to recognize or understand their value.

She also hopes the book can address the recurring negative feelings of children. As Ezer tells readers, whether one is rich, poor, happy, sad, ugly, or beautiful, none of these labels determine one’s worth.

At the end of the tale, Ezer tells readers that despite all of life’s hardships, “I am precious simply because there is no one else like me. I am unique. I am loved. And you too!”

“Ezer the Bagel: The Rescue” is available in paperback or paperback at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and ezerthebagel.com, or as an e-book on Kindle.

Free specialty bookmarks and coloring activity pages are available for download at ezerthebagel.com, as are opportunities for local teachers to schedule an in-class reading of “Ezer the Bagel: The Rescue” with Nicely.

The second book in his series is nearing completion, Nicely said, and will be released next year. It will cover Ezer’s relationship with the Nicely family, their friends, his recovery from pneumonia, and how to maintain healthy relationships.

For more information, visit ezerthebagel.com.

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