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Telling the tale of Benny Bunny’s Ears

Rebecca Pinelle wanted to teach more than literacy via her book, Benny Bunny’s Ears. [Bill Atwood]

A St. Clements children’s author is being recognized for her book which teaches the importance of self-confidence and self esteem to kids.

Rebecca Pinnell was recently named a recipient of the Story Monsters approved book designation in the age 3-8 picture book and first time author categories for her book Benny Bunny’s Ears. 

The book follows Benny Bunny, who is at first self-conscious about his ears, but after helping out several other animals using those ears he learns that they are not so bad.

“When a child has something they think is not a good thing, it kind of teaches them that it can be a good thing,” said Pinnell.

The Story Monsters awards are bestowed by the literary magazine Story Monsters Ink. Rather than being compared to other works, books are judged on their own, and chosen not only by industry experts, but by kids as well.

“It’s kind of awesome. I think it’s important because then [it shows] that kids actually like it,” Pinnell said.

While Pinnell uses writing as a way to express herself and has always had a desire to write a book, she was also inspired by her a job as an early-childhood educator.

“I just really appreciated high quality books in the classroom and thought that if I was going to write one, I would want it to be high quality and teach more than just literacy,” she said.

“The first five years are the most important for development, especially for the soft skills. So that’s patience, sharing, and how they get their motivation. Do they get it from external sources or internal sources? Do they do something kind for someone because they get ‘a good job’ or because they feel good about it? And that transfers with them longer than learning how to spell something properly,” she said.

Being laid off because of the pandemic allowed Pinnell the time she needed to develop the book, with the finished product being “probably version 20,” she said.

While she originally tried to illustrate the book herself, Pinnell realized she needed someone with more knowledge which she found in Virginia-based illustrator Deb Johnson.

“She was very experienced and gave me a lot of help and advice and certain things she couldn’t maybe draw the way that I pictured so then I changed the text to adapt.”

She also enlisted the help of her stepdaughter to name the secondary characters.

“I wanted them to have clever names, so the librarian is Mrs. Reed, and then Mr. Bushel is the gardener,” Pinnell explained.

Pinnell self-published the book through Volumes Direct and it is now selling it on the US version of Amazon as well as the Canadian website Indigo.ca.

She is also looking to do readings of the book in local schools and daycares.

“It has been a slow start to sales because of COVID, I think – students weren’t all back in schools right away and I can’t do book readings because people were nervous. I’m trying to approach some local stores at the moment to get it in local places as well,” she explained.

She is also not ruling out more Benny Bunny titles.

“I did title it Benny Bunny’s Ears instead of just Benny Bunny because it leaves the potential open for another book. And some of the other characters in the book have potential, I think, to develop as well.”

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