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Audrey Penn

THE KISSING HAND
A beautiful book about Chester Raccoon and his mother and how love works to reassure when we are frightened.

Helpful for separations which occur when a child enters school for the first time and also powerful through the experience of the death of a loved one or foster care placement.
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A Kiss Goodbye by Audrey Penn
The trees in Chester's part of the forest are being cut down, and Mrs. Raccoon has been forced to find a new home. Chester is understandably saddened and fearful of what the move might bring.
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A Bedtime Kiss for Chester Raccoon - This sweet and decidedly unscary board book is both a light-hearted way to calm children's fears at bedtime, along with a gentle introduction to Chester Raccoon and the Kissing Hand for the younger child. Funny illustrations will gentle the scary-looking shadows in a bedroom. (2011) Ages 2-4

Chester the Brave [Chester learns the meaning of bravery and a method for overcoming his fears in this new Audrey Penn title. After sharing the story of a little bird who is afraid to have flying lessons in front of his friends, Mrs. Raccoon tells Chester that being brave doesn’t mean being unafraid; being brave means not letting that fear stop him. Mrs. Raccoon teaches Chester an important strategy: Think-Tell-Do. When he thinks he is afraid, he tells himself he can do it, and then he just does it. Of course, getting a Kissing Hand helps a little too. This simple strategy can be helpful to children in many different situations.] (2012) (Ages 3 and up)

Audrey Penn is an award-winning author of several books for children, including the highly acclaimed New York Times bestseller The Kissing Hand. She grew up outside Washington, DC, in Silver Spring, Maryland, but also spent a great deal of time in North Carolina. As a child, Audrey was quite a storyteller - gathering the neighborhood kids to entertain them with her imaginative tales. Her teachers told her she had a gift and encouraged her to write.

During the 1970s, Audrey was a ballet dancer, performing with such groups as the New York City Ballet, the National Ballet, and the Stuttgard Ballet in Europe. She began working with athletes in 1972, initially with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and continuing on to work with baseball players, ice skaters, and gymnasts. She has served as the dance coach to the US Figure Skating Team in preparation for the Pan American Games (1973), and was the US Gymnastic Team's dance coach in both 1974 and 1975.

Audrey's first book was Happy Apple Told Me, published in 1976. In 1979, however, she was confined to her bed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis - a debilitating disease that ended her dance career (and prevented her from walking). For the next 15 years, she endured many surgeries, including hip and shoulder replacements, and walked with crutches. During this period of restricted mobility, Audrey increasingly channeled her artistic talents toward writing stories and books for children. She went on to write her second book, Blue Out of Season, winner of a Very Special Arts Recognition Award, and has written many more books since.

Her most popular book to date, The Kissing Hand, published in 1993, was inspired by a real-life occurrence that happened in a park near her home. While riding a small train through a park, the train suddenly came to a stop. She saw the conductor waving his hands and shouting at something on the tracks in front of the train. When he went to find a park ranger for help, Audrey got out of her seat to see what was causing the commotion. A raccoon mother and her tiny cub were on the tracks, and the mother was opening the cub's paw and appeared to be kissing it and putting it on the cub's face. An idea sparked in Audrey's mind, and she thought: What a great idea for a story! Coincidentally, at the time, her own daughter was going through separation anxiety, so she used the concept of giving her a kiss to save for when she needed it - and it worked. Even today, wherever Audrey travels, she encounters people who continue to enjoy the book and tell her how they are using its reassuring message. The Kissing Hand continues to sell around 100,000 copies each year and has been followed by the highly successful sequel, A Pocket Full of Kisses, released in 2004.

Her writing style is very visual; in fact, she's been told, "you don't write books, you choreograph them." Her biography appeared in a book by George Plimpton, written on behalf of Mrs. Jean Kennedy Smith, about artists in the Very Special Arts program.

In addition to her writing, Audrey takes her educational program, the Writing Penn, into schools, libraries, and children's hospitals where she often shapes and refines her story ideas in partnership with kids. She is a much sought-after conference speaker for groups of teachers and other professionals who work with children. Audrey's other books include A Pocket Full of Kisses, Feathers and Fur, A.D.D. Not B.A.D., Sassafras, The Whistling Tree, and No Bones About Driftiss.

Books for PreSchoolers

A Color Game for Chester Raccoon (PreS) [finding things in many colors: White, blue, yellow, red, orange, brown, and black.]