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Cover image from The Penguin Principal children's book.
“The Penguin Principal” by Susan Denton is available as an ebook on Kindle and free to KindleUnlimited subscribers.
ACSA member authors children’s book
March 1, 2021
It took a pandemic for Principal Susan Denton to put pen to paper and write her first children’s book — “The Penguin Principal.”
The book uses alliteration and charming illustrations to tell the story of Principal Penelope Prince, who is preparing for a “parade of new pending primary pupils” on the first day of school.
In honor of Read Across America Day (March 2), we asked Denton about the process and how she came up with all those “p” words.
How long have you been a principal? This is my third year at Standard Middle school after spending 11 years as an elementary principal. I have been in education since 1999.
What inspired you to write this book? My parents were both educators and my mother was always a member of the Kern Reading Association. She had always wanted to write children’s books but never did before her passing in 2017. Reading has been a huge part of my life and I absolutely LOVE penguins! When I was teaching I always loved reading “Dinorella” by Pamea Dunkin Edwards to my students and discussing the alliteration and creativity the author used. It all came together as a story in my head last fall when I was working remotely due to the pandemic. I started writing various story ideas, based on alliteration and the school setting. “The Penguin Principal” is my first in a planned series.
Can you tell me the story? The story of Principal Prince revolves around a principal preparing for her primary penguin pupils to arrive for the first day of school. She prepares the school, and thinks about all the things the pupils might need to learn, and what they would enjoy on the playground and at lunches. She also remembers the importance of comforting the penguin parents as they drop off their little penguins on the first day of school.
I love the alliteration. Was it hard to come up with so many “p” words? It took me a little while to come up with so many “p” words, and I refined as I worked through the story. Even though this is the story of the first day of school for students, I wanted to include vocabulary that would be thought-provoking and challenging. I’ve included a short glossary in the back of the book to help children, families and teachers as they read.
The artwork is adorable. How did you get connected with the illustrator? Would you believe I actually got the idea for finding an illustrator on Tik Tok? Someone shared how they had used a site called Fiverr to find illustrators. After reviewing the site and finding several artists, I found Agus Ginanjar who did a wonderful job bringing my characters and the setting to life. For new children’s books authors I would highly recommend using established illustrators from contract services like Fiverr.
In honor of Read Across America Day, what are some of your favorite children’s book titles? Growing up, I absolutely loved the books by Shel Silverstein. I was also a voracious reader of mystery series like Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, and I couldn’t get enough of the Choose Your Own Adventure books! Growing up with a family in education (both of my parents taught for over 30 years each, and my sisters and I all became teachers and now serve as administrators), we were always encouraged to read. As children, while my sisters would be outside playing, you could find me snuggled in a chair with a book and blanket getting lost in stories of adventure for hours on end. It’s a habit I still love to this day.
“The Penguin Principal” is available as an ebook on Kindle and is free for KindleUnlimited subscribers. A print copy is expected by summer 2021.
Susan Denton