Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Celebration of the Penny

A penny cannot buy what it once used to, but the little coin added meaning to everyday language and living. 
A penny for a wish, a lucky penny on the ground, or a penny for your thoughts.
With the Canadian penny's phasing out, the penny may be out-of-sight but should not be out of mind because pennies are special.

That is the blurb for a delightful picture book I recently picked up for my grandchildren, from Canadian author, Susan Harris. I invited Susan here today to answer a few questions.

What inspired you to write a book about the penny?
When I heard the Canadian penny was being retired, I wondered what the penny would say of its life over 155 years if it could speak? What did it hear? See? How did foreigners respond to it? I started making up stories for my family over supper, and joked that I should write about the penny. My husband encouraged me, and the book for adults, "Little Copper Pennies: Celebrating the life of the Canadian one-cent piece" was created.
What was your favorite part about researching this book?
This book (Little Copper Pennies for Kids) was an afterthought, thanks to a teacher-librarian friend’s suggestion, when the adult reader was in production.
Interviews were my favourite part of my research. I started with our experiences as a family, then expanded to others by phone, in person, and by email.  People had stories dating back to the 1920s when they were children, and many remembered family anecdotes from the 1800s.
The Picture book is meant to be a keepsake, intended for a child to grow up with, hence the different reading levels. If it is written for kindergarten, then by age 10 the children would have forgotten the penny. My intention was for the book to be read to children until they can read more words each year, and reading it on their own by grade 5-6:
I'd describe it as a layered book - with 5 layers
·       the storyline of the grandfather and child in the present, depicted in fall rich colours
·       the past in the pictures on white background using headings
·       the rhyming scheme on pastel background to cover the language
·       the blue bubbles to identify activities (carried on in blue letters at the end)
·       the history pages and my note in regular font
Where can people buy the book?
From my website http://www.susanharris.ca
at Chapters/Indigo/Coles stores Canadawide
I’ve heard that a number of schools have enthusiastically bought up the book. Could you share a story about that?
I was a former teacher so I believe my credibility was already established, and I found it easy to approach principals and superintendents.  The books are in every province, and in many public libraries and in schools across the nation (except in QC, but individual customers from that province have purchased copies.) The books sell themselves - teachers love the colours, the story, the History Page, the Facts, the Fun activities. Children love penny magic, fun and pictures. I've done presentations at dozens of schools to thousands of students.
Picture books are often difficult to market. What can you tell us about the sales?
I'm pleased to say that sales have exceeded the quota that major bookstores require in order to keep a book on the shelf.
It is my hope that the memories of this iconic Canadian symbol will remain alive for generations to come.
Well done!
Thanks Sandra, for the interview and for sharing my book with your granddaughter.
Thanks for joining us today. Here is a little more about Susan:
 Susan Harris lives with her family in Melville, Saskatchewan. She is a former teacher and the author of Little Copper Pennies: Celebrating the Life of the Canadian one-cent piece, Golden Apples in Silver Settings, and Little Copper Pennies for Kids. She loves taking pictures and playing with kittens.

Connect with Susan via:
Sandra Orchard is a best-selling, award-winning author of inspirational romantic suspense/mysteries with Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense imprint, and Revell Publishing. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America and The Word Guild (Canada). A mother of three grown children, she lives in Niagara, Canada with her real-life-hero husband and now writes full time…when not doting on her young grandchildren. You can learn more about Sandra’s books and bonus features at www.SandraOrchard.com or connect at www.Facebook.com/SandraOrchard


  1. Thank you, Sandra, for introducing my book to your audience. I believe that people from any economy that has/had a 1-cent coin will be able to relate to the rhymes, fun and storyline, and will be prompted to consider their coin's own history.

  2. I enjoyed hearing about this book here! Thanks, Sandra and Susan.

  3. Thanks Sandra and Susan. It sounds and looks like a lovely book. I like the concept. We haven't used pennies in Australia since the 1960s, which was before I was born so I can't remember them.

  4. How original, Susan. No wonder your books are picked up and are enjoyed by school children!

  5. Susan and Sandra, great interview! 1 cent and 2 cent copper coins were phased out in Australia over twenty years ago. My kids were fascinated by the USA pennys I've brought back home and it's lovely you're keeping their memory alive for kids in Canada.

  6. What an original idea! Thanks for sharing with us ladies.

  7. Thank you Susan and Sandra. Sounds like a fun book. I remember the Rhodesian penny with its hole in the middle. Thanks for reminding me! You can see the picture here: http://coinquest.com/cgi-data/cq_ro/response_380/rhodesia_penny_1956.jpg