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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2020:02:03 17:54:20

SUBMITTED PHOTO Stephanie Yatko displays her self-published chapter book, ‘Rosemary and Ben.’

The book came with a warning.

“It’s not as it seems,” the giver said when handing it to me a few months ago.

Looking at the cover, it seems to be a romance novel. It shows a beautiful rose bush in full bloom set against a clear blue sky with the title “Rosemary and Ben” written in elegant, pink letters.

But on page 13 of the 99-page chapter book written and self-published by a young Waverly Township resident, Stephanie Yatko, the story takes a dark turn. Using descriptive writing, the Scranton Preparatory School sophomore weaves mystery and horror together in this tale of friendship, exploration and a haunted asylum.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote here about reading, writing and “the pile,” a never-ending bucket list of books I intend to read but can’t get to fast enough. For every book I take off the pile and finish, at least another two appear.

I fully intended and couldn’t wait to start reading “Rosemary and Ben” by Stephanie Yatko the day the author’s father, Steve Yatko, hand-delivered it to me at work. But the book soon made its way to the pile, where it sat until last weekend, when I finally opened it and began to read.

And it was an intriguing read. Stephanie is a good storyteller.

Not that I’m surprised.

I first met Stephanie when she was a 10-year-old fifth-grader at Our Lady of Peace School. I was interviewing her about her second self-published picture book, “The Wood People,” which was about four friends in a magic castle. After I wrote about her, I recruited her to write her own monthly column for a children’s page in the newspaper I worked for at the time.

I’ve kept in touch here and there with the family since then, and celebrate when I hear of her many accomplishments. Her writing is just the beginning. Between playing basketball, teaching and coordinating STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) outreach programs at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Northeastern Pennsylvania and starting a rowing club at Scranton Prep, she keeps busy.

If you’d like to read “Rosemary and Ben” for yourself (and check out her other books), you can do so via Amazon at

Just don’t judge it by its cover.

Contact the writer:; 570-348-9185, ext. 3492