#MMBBR #Q&A Chester Raccoon and the Almost Perfect Sleepover by Audrey Penn
Are we almost there?” Chester Raccoon asked his mother.
Chester is excited about going to his very first sleepover. After his mother drops him off at Pepper Opossum’s house with a Kissing Hand in his palm, Chester and his animal friends have a long day of playing games and eating snacks. But when the animals decide to bed down, Chester can’t go to sleep.
While his Kissing Hand has kept him from getting scared, he isn’t in his own bedroom, and he misses his family. When Chester returns home, Mrs. Raccoon welcomes her little cub and reassures him that his home is always there when he needs it.
Young readers will enjoy reading about the party fun and take comfort when Chester finds himself in a situation they can relate to.
You're such a
wonderful writer, what do you love most about being one?
Writing for me is the excitement of breathing life into a
new world. Once I decide my characters and the setting, the rest is designing a
world a child would love to visit over and over again.
What inspires your
There are stories in everything I see and hear. I keep a
journal of experiences. Generally, I wait for something incredible to fall into
my lap and go from there.
Could you please
share your favorite memory about publishing your first book?
I wrote a type of fairytale as a Christmas gift for friends
I had in theatre. It had a serious theme told in a fanciful way. A year later I
received a call from a publisher that they wanted to publish my book. I asked
them what book? The answer they gave me was the title of my Christmas gift. I
have never found out who submitted it for publication.
Do you have any funny
stories from being on the road?
I was invited to be a keynote speaker and traveled from
Maryland to California to talk about the Kissing Hand series. The event was in
the evening and everyone was dressed beautifully. I, however, gave my speech
dressed in blue jeans and a very plain sweatshirt. I brushed my hair, put on
lipstick and explained that even though I came to California, my clothes went
What book would you
like to take a weekend vacation inside of?
What an interesting question. If I could spend a weekend
vacation in one of my books I would have to say Mysteryat Blackbeard’s Cove. To find a hidden, and secret tunnel dug by Blackbeard
the pirate and explore those things left behind would be a wonderful adventure.
You were a writer on
my bucket list for this blog - how does that make you feel?
I’ve never been on a bucket list before. It’s very exciting.
Considering what my bucket list exists of, I am truly flattered and humbled
that you would think of my writing for your blog in that way. I hope I live up
to your expectations.
What advice would you
give to aspiring children's writers?
The greatest advice I could give any children’s writer would
be to know your audience, think from their world, not your own, and to notice
everything there is going on in life. Pay attention to the way a child could
spend an entire morning watching an ant cross a sidewalk, or the chirping sound
squirrels make when chasing each other. Make everything fresh and new and
desirable for all children. I am still learning all these things.
Do you have anything
else you would like to share with my followers?
So many people tell me that they have always wanted to write
but they never do. Writing is scary because when you put an idea into print it
is suddenly real. But there is joy in seeing yourself from the perspective of
your characters. Don’t be afraid to write. If you can talk on the phone, you
can write. Just put the conversation down in pencil. And keep a journal. Start
your children on journals when they’re tiny. You do the writing, of course. But
their imaginations and insights will astound you. Most of all, thank you for
letting me know how much you enjoy my stories. It is more helpful and humbling
than I could ever express.
Audrey Penn takes
her one-woman educational program, the Writing Penn, into schools, libraries,
and children’s hospitals where she shapes and refines her story ideas in
partnership with kids. She is also highly sought after as a conference keynote
speaker by groups of teachers and other professionals who work with children.
In addition to her Kissing Hand series of books, Audrey is also the author of
the Blackbeard series for middle readers, and several other picture books. Her
latest release is Chester Raccoon and the Almost PerfectSleepover(Tanglewood Publishing)– the 10th in the Kissing Hand series!
This story is sheer heart and love. My son still cannot sleep at friend's houses because he gets home sick, so we could all relate to Chester's problem. I love all of Penn's books and I am a super fan of hers because she captures what children feel in such a unique and creative way. She allows children to feel normal when they go though social situations and have struggles. Chester and his group of pals are understanding and supportive and his family is loving and caring, You cannot help but fall in love with the characters because the pictures are beautiful. and the stories are those we can all relate to. The illustrations are bright in color, the characters have such expressive faces and there is rich and detailed scenery which allow the reader to get lost in the pages of the book. All of Penn's books allow parents to have great dialogue about how things, like sleepovers, make kids feel. It allows kids and parents to talk though the emotions in a safe and healthy way, making a child feel OK about their fears and feelings. I am such a fan of this entire series and this book is another HUGE hit!!! A must have book for your child's home library!
I started my first career as a ballerina dancing with the National Ballet, New York City Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, and the Danny Diamond Dance Theatre. I also served as alignist and choreographer for the U.S Figure Skating Team in preparation for the Pan American Games (1973), and for the 1976 Olympic Gymnastics team. In 1980 I became too ill with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) to continue dancing. Because I had done a lot of children’s theatre and children’s dance, and I have always enjoyed children’s literature, I turned to writing children’s books for my creative outlet.
But my writing career actually began much earlier than 1980. When I was a young girl, I had two older brothers who took great joy in teasing me.
When I was in the fourth grade, I began keeping journals of the silly things they would say and do. Then I began adding things my pets did. Finally, I began to write down everything I saw and heard every day.