Bethel teacher authors book about inclusion and acceptance

Crescent park teacher Heidi Bullen, right, and her friend Lisa Wentzell wrote a book about Lisa’s son, Scotty, and his special relationship with “Spillway,” which he is laying on. Rose Lincoln/Bethel Citizen

BETHEL — Teacher and author, Heidi Bullen, of Bethel, has written a new book. It’s titled, “A Dog and his Boy: the Adventures of Spillway and Scotty.”

She co-wrote this, her third book, with her longtime friend, Lisa Wentzell. The story is told from the point of view of Spillway, a life-sized stuffed dog who goes everywhere with his ‘boy’, Scotty, who is Wentzell’s son.

On a recent afternoon, Lisa and Scotty, of North Yarmouth, drove to Crescent Park where Bullen teaches third grade. While Bullen and Wentzell talk, Scotty, who is non-verbal, cracked an occasional smile, looking through his mother’s iPad at people he knows. Eventually he laid down on the rug, using Spillway as his pillow.

Wentzel and Bullen have been friends for 30 years, since before Scotty was born, when they lived and worked at Sugarloaf. The name “Spillway” is taken right from the mountain; it is one of the runs at Sugarloaf.

Bullen met her husband, Dana, when they both were working at Sugarloaf. Dana is now president and general manager at Sunday River. Wentzel’s husband worked at Sugarloaf, too, and the four have stayed friends.

Scotty was born with a chromosomal disorder called Dubowitz Syndrome that causes developmental delays. He didn’t walk until the age of 6.

They bought Spillway, at LL Bean in Freeport when Scotty was 10. “After a while Scotty loves him to death,” said his mother. “His legs get broken, his ears fall off, his nose falls off. I’m constantly sewing him up.”

At their camp in Wilton, Spillway wears a life jacket because Scotty thinks it’s funny to throw him overboard. (He dries well, thankfully).

Spillway skis beside Scotty at Sunday River where he has been enrolled in the Maine Adaptive Ski program since he was 5.

As Scotty started taking Spillway everywhere, Wentzel began to think there should be a book about their relationship.

Admitting she was “not a writer,” she texted Bullen to see if she would consider writing the book with her. (It was during the pandemic), I had all this extra time. All of a sudden we were home. It was perfect,” said Bullen.

Another Sugarloaf friend, Claudia Diller, illustrated the book as she did Bullen’s other books, “Eddie the Yeti” and “Betty the Yeti.”

Original art by Claudia Diller of the cover of the book Heidi Bullen and Lisa Wentzell co-wrote. Submitted art

As they were writing the book, Wentzell tried to find another, back-up Spillway from toy makers, “Melissa and Doug,” but they had stopped manufacturing them. Nearly 100 friends wrote to the customer service department, urging them to continue making the oversized dog so they could buy them for Scotty as back-ups.

But to no avail, the company would no longer manufacture the stuffed dog.

In the meantime, friends went on the Internet buying as many as they could find from other people. Scotty now has 25 new Spillways on the third floor of his house and several more damaged Spillways that his mother can’t bear to throw away.

At the age of 22, Scotty has completed high school. His new job is doing book tours with his mother and Bullen. On Friday, Feb. 17, the Wentzells will return to Crescent Park to present their book with Bullen and another Maine author. They hope to find funding so all the Crescent Park children will be able to take home a book, too.

Crescent park teacher, Heidi Bullen, right, and her friend, Lisa Wentzell, left, wrote a book about Lisa’s son Scotty, center, and his special relationship with “Spillway,” laying on their laps. Rose Lincoln/Bethel Citizen

Scotty doesn’t speak but can communicate through photos. That’s really the basis for the book. Often children and adults don’t understand all that’s in there, when they can’t communicate or talk,” said Bullen.

You just need to give people a chance, let them in. You never know what will happen,” Wentzel added.

“We’re going to see where this takes us,” says Bullen, about the book’s debut. They are hoping that The Cromwell Center for Disabilities will choose it for their 2023 book of the year. “We might possibly do the Today Show, too, with Jenna Bush,” says Bullen, smiling.

“I am so thankful for Heidi and Claudia. They are special in Scotty’s story. Having them help me write this book, just means the world to me. Heidi inspired me to write, too,” said Wentzell.

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