A championship-era Bulls fan's dream of meeting the charismatic Dennis Rodman played out for more than 250 people Saturday in Naperville as "The Worm" signed copies of his newly released children's book -- and at least one jersey -- at Anderson's Bookshop.
Rodman stopped in the suburbs to promote "Dennis The Wild Bull," a story he said aims to teach children ages 4 to 8 to stay true to themselves.
"I'm a kid at heart myself, and I just felt that this would be a different venture," Rodman said Saturday. "I think that kids today have got to have some type of role model. For us today with all the bullying going on in school, kids are going to school trying to be big and bad, but this book is saying, 'It's OK to be different. It's OK to be different.'"
The crowd in Naperville included 250 people who bought advance copies of the book as well as their families and friends. Parents brought young ones who may be Bulls fans now, but were born too late to have seen the Hall of Famer play with the home team from 1995-98.
Despite Rodman's colorful past of partying, dating stars like Madonna and Carmen Electra, and even once donning a wedding dress, Elio Benitez of Chicago said he thinks writing a children's book was a good move for Rodman.
"I think he's making a very valid entry into making other people's childhoods better by promoting reading," said Benitez, who came to Naperville for Rodman's autograph with a group including his 6-year-old son, Fernando.
Rodman's latest literary work was cowritten with Dustin Warburton. It features a bull named Dennis who is captured from his family and eventually befriends the other bulls with whom he is forced to live in a rodeo, although he looks nothing like them. Illustrated by Don Monroe, drawings of Dennis the bull are immediately reminiscent of Rodman, with nose rings and a wide grin.
"I wanted to see what the children's book was about and I enjoyed watching him play," Michelle Wheeler of Vernon Hills said after getting her paperback copy of the book adorned with Rodman's tall, scratchy signature.
Wearing sunglasses, a Bulls hat and his typical nose rings, lip ring and earring, Rodman smiled for photos, shook hands with a few fans and even signed a red No. 91 Bulls jersey for Nick Dunn of Oswego.
"He's definitely been one of my basketball idols," Dunn said about Rodman. "This is definitely a dream I've rooted for for a long, long time."
Once Dunn heard of the book signing, he rounded up his brother, mom and others to buy copes of the book and line up for Rodman's autograph. He said he has fond memories of watching Rodman's rebounding and energy help the Bulls to their repeat three-peat championships in 1996, 97 and 98.
While many at Anderson's were seeing "Dennis The Wild Bull" for the first time as they awaited an autograph, Dunn said he already read it as an e-book. And its main character?
"It's definitely Dennis, for sure," Dunn said. "It's definitely an odd bull."