Award-winning children’s author Audrey Penn, creator of The Kissing Hand book series, visited Newtown for a pair of programs on Friday and Saturday, September 13 and 14.
For her first stop, Ms Penn visited Sandy Hook School, currently housed in Monroe’s Chalk Hill Middle School, on Friday. She then visited C.H. Booth Library on Saturday.
As Sandy Hook School Library Media Specialist Yvonne Cech wrote to parents in a handout, “Today, your child had the wonderful opportunity of meeting the author of the beloved classic children’s book The Kissing Hand, Audrey Penn!”
The handout was given to parents in copies of The Kissing Hand, which were sent home with students, courtesy of Ms Penn’s publisher Tanglewood Press.
“In addition, through a project called The Kissing Hand Mitten Project, people all over the world have knitted unique mittens to go along with Ms Penn’s book,” Ms Cech wrote.
The Kissing Hand follows the story of Chester Raccoon, who does not want to start attending school. Chester’s mother, Mrs Raccoon, “shares a family secret called the Kissing Hand to give him the reassurance of her love any time his world feels a little scary,” reads the book’s description.
Before Sandy Hook School students were gifted their copy of The Kissing Hand, Ms Penn spoke during a presentation at the school.
Ms Penn shared some of her tips as a writer — like rewriting, rewriting, rewriting— and some of her life stories that have inspired her books.
The Kissing Hand, Ms Penn told the students, was first written on a shopping bag in her car after she saw a mother raccoon kissing the hand of her baby raccoon.
Ms Penn also had a few surprises for the students. After asking two students to stand before the assembled classes with her, Ms Penn gave the students a coprolite to hold. The coprolite was found by her son during an outing when he was in second grade, Ms Penn explained. A coprolite is a fossil, Ms Penn said, but she challenged the students: did they know what kind of fossil?
When no one offered an answer, Ms Penn announced to a roar of response that a coprolite is a fossilized dinosaur poop. One of the students helping Ms Penn show the coprolite wiped his hands on his pants after her announcement.
According to Ms Cech, in preparation for Ms Penn’s visit students at Sandy Hook School read a number of the author’s books aloud in library class.
On Saturday, Ms Penn gave two presentations at the town library. Each child who attended those programs was also offered a copy of The Kissing Hand.
Her second presentation at the library on Saturday was geared to aspiring writers, her first was for children.