UPDATE- Due to low registration numbers, the pajama party has been cancelled.
It's been 20 years since Maryland author Audrey Penn wrote and illustrated "The Kissing Hand," a children's book that illuminates the bond between parents and children.
To celebrate the anniversary, the Hockessin Bookshelf will host a "pajama party" Sunday afternoon for fans of the book. Kids will enjoy story time, a related craft, raccoon-worthy snacks and games and a copy of the book that includes a CD.
First published in 1993, it has been used countless times since to reassure children upset by separation anxiety. The inspiration for the story struck Penn while on a train. She witnessed a ritual in which a mother raccoon placed its nose on a baby raccoon's paw. The baby raccoon then placed its paw on its own face. When she asked a park ranger about it, the ranger said that the purpose of the ritual was to transfer scent from the mother to the baby so that the baby could recall the mother's scent by bringing its paw to its face. Penn started a similar ritual with her own daughter, kissing her hand and telling her that whenever she was homesick, she could put her hand to her face.
Initially not well-received by the School Library Journal in 1994, the Scholastic Corporation went on to publish a paperback version in 1998 that became one of its biggest sellers. Then, following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the American Library Association recommended the book. In 2004, the United States Army purchased 14,000 copies of the book for soldiers stationed abroad to read on video for their families back home. It has been translated into at least five languages and been followed by five sequels.
The story is simple, though. Chester, a young raccoon, is nervous about going to school. His mother kisses his palm and tells him "whenever you feel lonely and need a little loving from home, just press your hand to your cheek and think, 'Mommy loves you. Mommy loves you.' Chester is comforted and goes to school."
"We are throwing a pajama party because, Chester, being a raccoon, goes off to school at night," said Hockessin Bookshelf owner Rebecca Dowling. "We will be playing pin the tail on Chester, singing and dancing to 'Chester's Song,' making Chester masks and decorating celebration cupcakes."
Advance registration is required (by Friday at 5 p.m.) and the cost of the event is $18 per participating child. For more information or to register for the event, call the store at (302) 235-7665.