Sunday, July 16, 2017

#MMBBR #QandA #GuestPost #Review #ChesterRaccoon and the Almost Perfect Sleepover by #AudreyPenn

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.
Picture Book | Ages 3 – 7

Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-939100-11-5 | 32 pages | $16.95

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 writing?
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 to Denver.

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!
Connect with Audrey at:

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.
Check out Audrey's website HERE
Buy the book HERE


Mrs. Mommy Booknerd’s Book Reviews As an author, I am constantly asked where my inspirations come from. The answer is quite simple. My inspirations come from everything around me.

At one point, I had three children at home with a dog, a tortoise, and a horse. Need I say more?

 I have always been interested in my surroundings. I would listen to conversations, many times uninvited. I would watch my friends play and write about it in my journal. In acting school we were encouraged to imitate people, just not get caught doing it. But the acting exercise allowed me to walk in other people’s shoes.

When I write, I call upon all of these life lessons. I am able to recall sounds, smells, feel, appearance, and taste. When I rewrite, my very favorite part of writing, I use these tactile experiences to construct a believable character. Even if the mother is a raccoon, she will follow the rules of motherhood everywhere. Mothers know the value of touch, of listening, of watching.

I try and write from the child’s perspective at all times. I wish those who review children’s literature would do the same. But so many adults, teachers, and parents tell me that they have had their own memories or childhood situations brought back by the characters in my books - I am positively delighted by this. We forget as adults that children can’t see above the wall in front of the walrus tank at the zoo. Their little faces see only cement until we remember and lift them up. That is what children’s literature should do. Stories should remember the perspective of a child and then lift them up.

I took my four-year-old son to the park where there was a small train that took us for a ride through the forest. We had been on this train many times, but this time the train stopped mid-way through the ride.

The engineer told us that an animal was on the railroad tracks and was disinclined to leave. He said he had to go and fetch a park ranger to shoo it away, and we were not to leave the train.

When the engineer was out of sight, I made it very clear to my son he was not to leave the train. But, I am a children’s writer. The thought of seeing a deer resting on the train tracks, holding up seventy people, would make a very funny story. So I very carefully and quietly tiptoed up front to see the deer.

Suddenly, I was faced with a huge raccoon standing on her hind legs clicking at me. I was terrified. I knew when dealing with a wild animal to look down and back away slowly, so that is what I did. In doing so, I saw the tiniest baby raccoon I have ever seen standing by his mother’s side. I was awestruck. I was spellbound and could not take my eyes off the cub.

All at once, the mother got down off her hind legs and took her cub’s hand in her own. She opened his tiny hand, bent down, and nuzzled his palm. The cub then put his hand on his face. My eyes welled with tears. I had just seen a human mother smack her tiny son’s legs for not keeping up and here, in the forest, a mother raccoon gave so much love, so much attention, so much gentleness to her cub I had to ask myself, which one of the mothers was more understanding. I knew then what my writing would be for the rest of my life. I wanted to inspire a loving connection between parent and child in every book.

I never meant for The Kissing Hand to be a series. I was just hoping a child, and parent or guardian, would share the experience of a kissing hand, thus, making this wonderful connection.

Years later, I was watching my great niece and nephew bicker over a chair. Then I remembered. Sibling rivalry. My mother told me, when she brought me home from the hospital my brother was standing on the sidewalk with his hands on his hips and asked, “Can you take her back?” Thus, the first question Chester Raccoon asks in A Pocket Full of Kisses when facing a younger brother.

A Kiss Goodbye offers hope and friendship at the end of every new path whether it’s stepping up to a different grade or moving to a new town.

Each book that has been added to the series is based on stories I have heard, things I have experienced, or just things going on in the world. Even my latest book, Chester Raccoon and the Almost Perfect Sleepover, is based on my niece Ila’s tale of her first “disastrous” sleepover. As long as children are involved, I want to tell them they can find friendship and comfort inside the pages of a book.

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. Connect with Audrey on Facebook

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