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Sweet children's book grew out of pandemic


Charlie Hopper found inspiration for his story while posting pandemic photos online.

Charlie Hopper and Penelope Dullaghan will sign books from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Noblesville Barnes & Noble in Stony Creek Marketplace,

17070 Mercantile Blvd.,

Noblesville, IN 46060.


What happens when two former ad agency colleagues come together during a pandemic? They collaborate on a children’s book!


Charlie Hopper and Penelope “Penny” Dullaghan worked together for many years at the advertising agency Young & Laramore, he as Creative Director and she as Art Director/resident artist. He has a way with words, she makes those words come alive in drawings. The result is “Thank You, Day!”, a book about a little girl who greets her outdoor environment with a huge measure of enthusiasm.


Here is their description: “With heartfelt feeling and joy, a kid gives kudos and kisses, hugs and high fives, shout-outs and simple thanks to everyday wonders in this sweet ode to slowing down, being present, and paying attention to the world around us.” And it’s written in rhyme.


Charlie, now a freelance copywriter, recalls the inspiration for writing this book.


“On the first day of the COVID pandemic, the store shelves were bare, so I posted a photo of that on social media. I thought I’d do a post each day, like a journal for the quarantine, and it was 500 and some days before I was done!" says the author.

One of Penelope Dullaghan's illustrations for the book.

“One day I was walking the dog. It was a beautiful day so I took pictures of trees, clouds and blue sky, and I thought 'Good job today, everybody!' I wanted to thank everything for doing a good job. Then I wondered, what would a kid think about this day? Then she became a character. I almost didn’t write it in rhymes, but I went back through the story and made a rhyme out of each topic.”


Asked if he thought today’s kids need more positive messages in a crazy world, the father of three concurred. “I would think so. I remember reading to our kids and we’d choose books about a lot of things. If you make books and illustrations fun and energetic, kids will like them. The world is a weird place these days, and I think the publisher thought it was a positive, sweet book where parents can interact with their kids.


“There were children’s books I would hide from my kids,” he confesses. “They didn’t have the right rhyme, were hard to read, and it was a labor to read it. The sentences didn’t flow, and when I wrote this book I was very sensitive about the person who was reading it. Like a performance, it has to flow, and that was my goal.”


After he finished the book, he contacted Penny to see if she might be interested in doing the illustrations.


“She wanted to read it to her daughter first. Her daughter liked it, and Penny went ahead and showed it to her publishers, who also said yes. So that’s how I got lucky!” The book is published by Cameron Kids/Abrams.


Charlie comes from a literary family: His mother, Lynn Hopper, was a newspaper writer and editor and published a collection of life-and-career anecdotes last year. His sister, Ann Kroeker, is a writing coach and has published several books on that subject. Charlie has written one previous book about restaurant marketing called “Selling Eating.”


The author also has songwriting skills as keyboardist and singer for Mikes House, an ’80s rock band that still performs reunion shows every 10 years. Their next show will be as the opener for Phyllis, Sept. 30 at Radio Radio in Fountain Square, Indianapolis. (Follow them on Facebook.)


Illustrator Penelope Dullaghan began drawing at a young age, a talent that morphed into a career at ad agencies and now, books.


Penelope Dullaghan started drawing when she was a youngster.

“I’ve been drawing since I could pick up a pencil,” says Penny. “My grandma was an artist and I’d go to her house where we’d draw together. I always thought I’d be an artist when I grew up, always had a sketchbook with me, so it became a natural progression. I had wanted to be a fine art painter, but I studied graphic design in college so I could pay my bills.”


But being an illustrator had not been on her radar when she was young.


“It was never my dream to be an illustrator or even crossed my mind. I read voraciously, but never thought about how words and pictures were put together. I mostly worked in advertising, had a daughter, got interested in children’s literature and read to her. It is valuable reading out loud to kids. I thought it would be fun to contribute to this world and reach kids (through books) that way.”


Illustrating “Thank You, Day!” was an easy decision for Penny.


“Anything Charlie writes is wonderful, so fun, and the way he uses words draws you in,” she says. “He reached out during the pandemic and asked what I thought, and I loved it immediately. I loved the concept of a little girl having gratitude for things in her backyard.”


Penny works in several mediums including printmaking, paint and cut paper. She also creates "wallpaper" for phones and computers. You can find out more about her and her work here: www.penelopedullaghan.com.


In addition, she works with a group called Mystic Kids, teaching them mindfulness practices to "help them become aware of the magic within them," illustrating videos and working with animators on the website www.weareweewoo.com.


Penny also notes that "Thank You, Day!" has been selected for the Society of Illustrators Original Art 2023, a November gallery show in New York City.


To order “Thank You, Day!” click here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1951836707?tag=abramsbooks02-20

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