UHS student/author, Jacqueline Viens, to appear at UHS Book Sale Sat.

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Viens to sign copies of book; proceeds of book to be donated to charity

By Suzanne Misciagna, Staff Writer, The Times

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Unionville High School senior Jaqueline Viens, author of Susie and Penny, an interactive children’s book, will be signing copies of her book at the Unionville High School Book Fair, Saturday.

EAST MARLBOROUGH – For book enthusiasts who eagerly await the popular Unionville High School Annual PTO Used Book Sale this weekend – there’s something new.  Yes, there will still be over 80,0000 books from over 45 genres filling the high school’s gymnasium this Friday and Saturday.  For the first time, however, local authors will be on hand to sign copies of their recently published books.

One such author is Unionville High School Senior, Jacqueline Viens.  Viens will appear at the Unionville High School Book Sale on Saturday, Feb. 23 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. to sign copies of her first book, Susie and Penny – an interactive children’s book about the adventures of a girl and her dog.

“I’ve always enjoyed writing,” says Viens, “but I never really thought about writing a book until I went to Cambodia,” she adds.

A native of Singapore, Viens has always had a fondness for the people of Southeast Asia. So, when she learned through a family friend about an organization dedicated to helping kids in Cambodia, she knew she had to get involved.

During her Freshman year of high school, Viens became involved with the Caring for Cambodia foundation (www.caringforcambodia.org)  – a nonprofit organization committed to providing a better and brighter future for the children of Cambodia through education.

Viens began working with the foundation by collecting toothbrushes to send to a school in Cambodia as part of the foundation’s Bright Smiles, Bright Futures Program.

With the help of family and friends, Viens collected 1,500 toothbrushes – enough to earn a trip to Cambodia, courtesy of her parents, to deliver the toothbrushes in person.

“As I carried in boxes and boxes of toothbrushes, the kids were crowding around me looking for books,” says Viens. “The students there love reading and writing but most of the books in the library focus on topics such as how to maintain proper hygiene or how to take care of a baby. They don’t have ‘typical’ books for an elementary aged student that we have here,” she adds.

During her week long stay in Cambodia, Viens volunteered in the school’s library. It was here that her idea for writing a children’s book began.

“I thought that it would be really cool to have a ‘typical’ fiction book in the school library geared towards elementary-aged kids.  I came home from my trip to Cambodia inspired to write one.”

Viens worked on the story of Susie and Penny all through her Freshman and Sophomore years of high school.

Susie and Penny is a simple story of a girl and her dog and their adventures together,” says Viens.

Viens created the book to be interactive – serving as a coloring book too. Designing the book in black and white had a two-fold benefit – it helped keep the printing costs down and also made the book interactive – allowing the reader to color the pictures in the book and make it his or her own work of art.

The book is written in both English and Khmer, the national language of Cambodia. “Getting the book translated into the Cambodian language was a long process,” notes Viens. “But, I wanted to be able to send copies of the book to the schools in Cambodia.”

The illustrator of Susie and Penny also has local ties to our area. Viens asked Jordan Mizrahi, a 2012 Unionville High School graduate and friend, to illustrate the book.

In addition, Viens is donating all proceeds from the book to the Caring for Cambodia foundation.   “I am passionate about all of the money from the sale of Susie and Penny going to charity,” says Viens.

With college looming just around the corner, Viens is considering pursuing a career in journalism or communication.  “I am certain that I will incorporate service into whatever career I choose,” says Viens.

Also, local author James Kimmel, Jr. will also appear at the Unionville High School Book Sale on Saturday, February 23 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to sign copies of his book, The Trial of Fallen Angels, the story of an elite team of lawyers responsible for prosecuting and defending souls in the afterlife.

The Unionville High School PTO Used Book Sale will be held at Unionville High School’s gymnasium, 750 Unionville Road, in Kennett Square. Book Sale hours are Friday, February 22 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday, February 23 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Doors reopen on Saturday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. for an $8 per bag sale.

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