Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 30, 2020

Book Giveaway: PIPPIN PALS are HERO HELPERS! by Donna Marie

The Covid-19 pandemic has knocked the world out of joint, to say the least. Now, especially with the school year beginning, families and educators are struggling to sort out how to go about making it work. 

Author/Illustrator :Donna Marie has published her debut picture book Pippin Pals are Hero Helpers!) which addresses all aspects of the pandemic—from a child’s perspective. They were first available as eBooks, but now that the paperback version is available, one lucky “Writing & Illustrating” winner gets a signed copy of choice. You get to pick from 6 diverse versions (2 more inclusive versions on the way!) All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, Tweet, Instagram or talk about it on Facebook with a link and the hashag #PippinPals, and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

 Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping :Donna, as an author, but more importantly—helping families with children during this pandemic. And be sure to check out the “Pippin Pals” website packed with helpful info, activities and free 8.5×11” and 11×17” downloads on mask wearing/handling, and hand hygiene to print and post anywhere from bathrooms to classrooms!



One morning in March 2020 a child wakes up and gets ready for school only to be told by Mom that he/she has to stay home—it’s a rule. The child doesn’t understand, is upset about no longer being able to play with friends and do many “normal” things like go to the playground, the movies, school or anything outside their home or family. The mother then tells the child about the pandemic—the deadly virus that’s “sneaky and quick.” Accompanied by illustrations, she explains how easily the virus spreads, how it can make some people very sick, who the heroes are who help the people who need hospital care, along with the many essential workers we count on. The child learns that by doing “stay safe” things like staying physically distant, wearing masks and washing hands they become “Hero Helpers.” Highlighted are many positives about staying home, and lots of “stay at home” activities, including a surprise “fun” idea Mom has the family do. The child is reassured that, until the doctors say it is “safe” again, they will visit friends and family virtually, continue to be grateful for the good things, and how they will stay strong till this pandemic passes.



Back in March, especially living in New Jersey, one of the first hardest hit by COVID-19,  I was caught up in the whirlwind all that entailed;  the need to stay locked down as much as possible, stocking up on necessities—everything. I was glued to CNN and my Twitter feed. It was wonderful witnessing, very early on, how the KidLit community, from the publishers on down, plus teachers, librarians and more, were offering up ways for families and parents to cope with living life 100% homebound. I really wished there was a way I could contribute.

My foggy brain finally pulled up a picture book I’d written back in the 90s called The Rainy Day which was about the many fun “unplugged” things to do when a sunny day turned rainy. Bingo! That’s what I could do: put up, in a blog post, the ideas with a few illustrations from the dummy which included six diverse characters! As soon as I thought of it, I just as quickly realized that wouldn’t really do much to help. I then thought maybe I could rewrite the beginning of the story to be directly related to the pandemic experience so it could serve as more than just a list of “things to do” and figured to post that instead. Once I began writing, I ultimately wrote an entirely new story with the only thing from the original I kept being the mother’s craft idea.

As timing would have it, last year, when I became aware that Shutterfly accepted unsolicited submissions and began researching, I saw how they offered different options to help personalize the books, e.g., gender, skin color, hair, name, so I had figured out a way to create a book that could include my six diverse characters. I’d written a story and was working things out when, within a few weeks, Shutterfly (due to administrative changes) discontinued the expansion of their personalized children’s books. That project had fallen through, but was told that it was possible Shutterfly might eventually kick things up again, so I chalked it up and put it aside.

I’m not stating anything new when I say that, in life, the things we learn and experience fit like disjointed, interchangeable pieces of a puzzle, and I’ve always been delighted and in awe when unexpected pieces fit together, especially in respect to the creative process. As does with all brainstorming (at least with me), having written this new pandemic-themed story, all these pieces flooded my brain: pandemic story + Shutterfly process + Amazon ebooks FREE publishing = possible. Once I realized it was in my power to do this, I decided to bite the self-publishing bullet — something I NEVER wanted to do—but I had the idea, wanted to contribute to the pandemic effort and naturally, being a book creator—was compelled to create! In my mind I thought I could finish it within a couple of months, tops. WRONG! (My time estimates are usually half of what is actual :-/) That simple equation turned out to be more like calculus when actually having to implement the project, especially not having capital to purchase things like a graphics tablet—and that was just to start, not to mention it was for six books simultaneously, not just one!

After all the research on self-publishing, I ultimately invested in creating a publishing imprint and purchasing my own ISBNs (FYI: every version and every format require their own). It was a weighty, debt-inducing decision, but that’s what I did. I finally published the ebooks on Amazon on July 31st (Harry Potter and J. K. Rowling’s birthdays :-)) then, a week later when I finally put them out on social media, I quickly learned people preferred paperbacks (so do I, but…). The formatting and page sizes were different, so that was another big, unexpected project (and more expense).That, plus figuring out (with the help and nudging from a friend) how to publish on Apple Books without personally owning a Mac product, with the pressure constantly on to release the books while they were still of use to families and teachers, it is the end of August and the books are now fully available! I’m just glad it’s in time for school beginning 🙂

And I almost forgot to mention that I created a website specifically to offer helpful info and tools for kids and adults alike that couldn’t be included in the books? At you’ll find free printable downloads on hand hygiene, wearing/handling face coverings and more, to post anywhere from bathrooms to classrooms. It also offers activity downloads and a page dedicated to essential workers.

You can find purchase links to all versions of Pippin Pals are Hero Helpers! (38-page ebook/40-page paperback) on Amazon and Apple Books here:       

Pippin Pals are Hero Helpers! Books

You can follow :Donna on Twitter and Facebook, and her Writer Side UP! and Creativity “Cookbook” blogs, and Pippin Pals at  , Twitter and Facebook

COMING SOON: 2 more inclusive versions of Pippin Pals are Hero Helpers!: one interracial family, one with same-sex parents.


For the many years I’ve been reading Kathy’s blog, getting to enjoy and celebrate the launches of countless amazing books, many written and illustrated by friends, I hoped I’d someday be one of them. Though this was not the route to publication I’d planned, still — my debut books are here, and I couldn’t be more honored and thrilled. But more than that, to be sharing on Kathy’s blog is incredibly special because we became dear friends through my close work with her during her last years as Regional Advisor of the NJSCBWI. I feel so blessed oxox


Donna is a proud and blessed mother and grandmother, and as a woman of love, hope and faith, she has loved stories since the first time she held ARE YOU MY MOTHER, THE CAT IN THE HAT and MADELINE in her hands. Passionate about storytelling in all forms, the wonder of words and pictures in books has long inspired her to tell stories of her own. As a small voice amid the glorious chorus of book creators, her hope is to add some small measure of value and joy for her gracious readers. And all of this while doing her best not to consume more “goodies” than good books! 😀

Donna, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. I can see all the work that went into this book. It is certainly a book needed at this time. I am sure Parents and teachers will make good use of this to help keep their children safe.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Kathy, thank you SO much for sharing this with your followers 😀 It’s exciting and means everything 😀 oxox


  2. Congratulation, Donna! I LOVE the book. It’s adorable, informative, and timely.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks SO much, Robin! I REALLY appreciate your support and certainly your praise 😀 oxox

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a wonderful idea! My young grandchildren have had some real confusion and sadness. These would be perfect! Sharing to FB and Twitter!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Barbara 🙂 Yes, it’s difficult for all of us, but the kids deal with it differently. I hope it helps, for sure, and please check out the website ’cause there are a lot of handy downloads 😀


  4. Sounds fabulous and timely and i’m going to share on my media! Can’t wait to read, Donna!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Lizzie! I hope you find it as helpful as it’s intended to be! 😀


  5. Its so great that you put your creative talent toward creating these books! Best of luck with them!
    I’ll definitely tweet and share a post on facebook about them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jan, thank you! The more sharing the better 🙂 I hope they serve their purpose 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Love hearing how these stories evolved Donna! Can’t wait to get a copy in my hands! I am sharing on FB and twitter and will be featuring you next month on my blog…Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Darlene, it’s been quite the ride these past months! And I can’t wait to appear on your blog 😀 I think thats the best part of this…sharing on my friends’ blogs! oxox


  7. […] Highlighted are many positives about staying home, and lots of “stay at home” activities, including a surprise “fun” idea Mom has the family do. The child is reassured that, until the doctors say it is “safe” again, they will visit friends and family virtually, continue to be grateful for the good things, and how they will stay strong till this pandemic passes.                          Kathy Temean on Writing and Illustrating  […]


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