Lititz is going to the dogs

By on May 28, 2014

Writing duo publishes third children’s book with canine characters

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, 32.6 percent of children in grades K-6 are currently reported as being overweight or obese. A mother-daughter writing team who have published a trio of children’s books with a Lititz flair are keeping with the times by espousing the idea that not only is exercise good for you – it’s doggone fun!

Susan McKain and Sandy Swan, authors of “Tugger the Pretzel Pup” and “Tugger & Mini-Mew” will launch “Pudgy the Puppy Gets Moving” from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 31, at Aaron’s Books, 35 E. Main St.

“Pudgy” is the story of a fun-loving, but inactive, black and white puppy who befriends a family that helps him learn how to enjoy exercising. Crucial to Pudgy’s education is Super G, a character inspired by Sandy Swann’s husband Gene, a retired gym teacher, and Rya, his granddaughter.

Mother-daughter duo Susan McKain and Sandy Swann will be signing copies of their new book, “Pudgy the Puppy Gets Moving,” on May 31 at Aaron’s Books. (Left to right) are author Susan McKain, Gene Swann (aka "Super G"), author Sandy Swann, Mochi (aka "Pudgy") and illustrator Denny Bond.

Mother-daughter duo Susan McKain and Sandy Swann will be signing copies of their new book, “Pudgy the Puppy Gets Moving,” on May 31 at Aaron’s Books. (Left to right) are author Susan McKain, Gene Swann (aka “Super G”), author Sandy Swann, Mochi (aka “Pudgy”) and illustrator Denny Bond.

Along with its timely message, the book features local Lititz landmarks like the Wilbur Chocolate Factory and Aaron’s Books-where all three of Swann and McKain’s books can be found for sale.

The pair began writing together in 2010, when McKain was intrigued by the antics of her Irish terrier, Tugger, and one of Lititz’s most popular exports, the pretzel.

“I thought it was ironic that Tugger lived in Lititz and ate anything and everything, but a pretzel,” McKain said. “I thought this would be a fun theme for a children’s book about a fantastic town. I began by writing eight rhyming lines. They came right off the top of my head. Then I shared the idea with my mom because I knew she always wanted to write children’s books too.”

“As a young reading teacher at the beginning of my career, I could not find books for my struggling readers because they had very limited vocabularies,” Swan said, “so I wrote a illustrated simple stories tailored to their vocabulary, ran them off on the ditto machine and used them with my students. Later as a stay-at-home mom, I wrote stories with my two children with their friends and pets as the main characters. The stories told about real events in their lives. At this point I thought I would write chapter books for young readers. When I went back to teaching full time, I was too busy to pursue my own writing. Then, after I retired, Sue told me her idea for a children’s book about Tugger. I liked it and had time to work. We collaborated, and ‘Tugger the Pretzel Pup’ was born.”

The pair’s second book was inspired by a kitten that came to visit and never left.

“Mini-Mew was a stray cat that we fed, and she adopted us,” said Swann. “I could not have her in the house because I am allergic to cats, but she found a cozy home in a window well with a cracked dome and she stayed with us for 10 years.”

Pudgy, in the newest book, is based on Mochi, a French bulldog belonging to the book’s illustrator, Denny Bond.

“Denny is a fine artist in the medium of watercolor, and I was impressed with his work,” Swann said. “I saw a children’s book he had illustrated and I appreciated the charm, warmth and detail of his full color illustrations.”

McKain and Swann hope the book not only entertains, but inspires kids to get up and move with its message. Sandy went so far as to send a copy of the book to first lady Michelle Obama, originator of the Let’s Move! Campaign combating childhood obesity.

“I think it’s very important for kids to be in good shape,” said Swann.

When the authors appear at Aaron’s on May 31, they’ll be bringing along two human characters from the new book – Super G and Rya — and one furry friend.

“Rya will bring her new puppy, a soft-haired Wheaten terrier named Koko,” Swann announced.

Self-published through AuthorHouse, “Pudgy” will sell for $16.95 at the signing.

Susan McKain lives in Lititz. She, her husband and daughter, Rya, love being within walking distance of three beautiful parks, a wonderful school, and many awesome businesses. She works as a substitute teacher in Warwick elementary schools.

Sandy Swann lives with her husband Gene in Chester County. They love to spend time with their three grandchildren and are fortunate enough to have traveled to 23 countries. A retired teacher, Sandy teaches Sunday school and is mission coordinator at her church.

To learn more about their upcoming appearance, visit aaronsbooks.com.

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