Arts and Entertainment

Penny the Penguin helps sick children

Author Theodore J. Duris gets a chuckle out of his children’s book, “Penny the Lost Penguin.” He will be selling copies Saturday outside of Oak Harbor Walmart with half the proceeds benefiting Ronald McDonald House. - Jim Larsen/Whidbey News-Times
Author Theodore J. Duris gets a chuckle out of his children’s book, “Penny the Lost Penguin.” He will be selling copies Saturday outside of Oak Harbor Walmart with half the proceeds benefiting Ronald McDonald House.
— image credit: Jim Larsen/Whidbey News-Times

A crusty old salt has written a cute children’s story in hopes of helping kids battling cancer and other diseases.

Oak Harbor resident Theodore J. Duris, 70, a retired Navy chief, is a fighter and laughs heartily at his own health history, which has included serious heart problems, cancer and other maladies. But his heart softens when he thinks of children with serious health problems, so he wrote a book to help them.

“Penny, the lost Penguin,” is dedicated to “all the children throughout the world hospitalized with life-threatening diseases. May this story place a smile on your face, and find some joy within your heart. My love and prayers are with you.”

Duris paid for the book printing himself but is sharing half the proceeds of book sales with the kids, by supporting Ronald McDonald House which gives families a place to stay when children are in the hospital. He will be selling his book for $16 Saturday, July 17, outside Oak Harbor Walmart from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

A born storyteller, Duris was inspired to write by his daughter, Desiree, 48. “Dad, why don’t you put it in writing?” she asked when first regaled with the tale of Penny the Penguin.

“I just make them up,” Duris said of the endless library of stories in his head. “Penny” starts a bit like “The Wizard of Oz,” with a big storm carrying the young bird from Antarctica to North America.

The short tale is affectionately and expertly illustrated by one of Duris’ Navy friends, Marshall Morrison. As Penny tries to find her way home she is befriended by a moose, a rabbit and a skunk. They seek out and find a wise old owl, who gets Penny home safely despite a dangerous encounter with a nasty cat in Seattle. Penny even makes a penguin friend to bring home with her.

For the sake of the kids, Duris is hopeful his little penguin will develop a following.

“If Penny ever takes off I’ve got a sequel all ready,” he said. “At 70 my mind is still going strong.”

Books may also be purchased at www.xlibris.com.

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