This story was originally published Oct. 25, 2018 on Story by Jake Bourgeois

Former Iowa royalty took her drug safety message to Jones County in an effort to provide a conversation starter on prescription drugs.

2018 Miss Southeast Iowa, Maddison Lange, stopped by story time at the Anamosa library Oct. 16 to promote her book, “Petunia and the Peculiar Candy,” and its message about safely handling prescription drugs.

The book follows the titular character, a pig named Petunia, and her friend Rose as the pair get sick of pain killers from Rose’s parents that are left out. The goals of the book are simple: raise awareness about the issues surrounding prescription drugs and give parents a way to start that conversation.

“My book gives them a tool to start that conversation,” she said. “Talking about medication and drugs with kids is not an easy conversation starter.”

The story is a personal one for Lange, who lost a pair of family members to drug overdoses. Even for her, it took a while to be comfortable putting her message out there. However, the book has been a bit therapeutic for her.

“By writing and publishing this children’s book, it’s really given me an outlet to be able to relate it to other people and share my experiences but also get other people to start talking about it, too,” she said.

Lange is a college student at the University of Iowa studying finance with her eyes on being a pediatrician. The book tour, which started more in earnest this summer, has shown her how perceptive kids can be about sensitive issues.

“Kids are so receptive to everything you tell them,” she said. “A lot of times, they know more than we think they do, and you’ve really just got to get them to understand that they can talk to their parents too about this stuff.”

The book is Lange’s third, and all of the proceeds from the book go to benefit the Partnership of a Drug-Free Iowa.

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