“Chester Raccoon stood at the edge of the forest and cried. ‘I don’t want to go to school,’ he told his mother. ‘I want to stay home with you. I want to play with my friends. And play with my toys. And read my books. And swing on my swing. Please may I stay home with you?’”
— “The Kissing Hand,”
by Audrey Penn.
NEW YORK (AP) — Imagining the horror for Sandy Hook Elementary students when they walk into their new school for the first time, a Connecticut mom is relying on Chester of the children’s classic “The Kissing Hand” and the busy fingers of her fellow knitters to ease their way.
Kim Piscatelli of East Hampton, Conn., hit on the idea of sending a copy of the book for each of the kids and a pair of handmade mittens adorned with a heart in one palm, signifying the reassuring kiss left there by the mother of scared, sad Chester in the story written by Audrey Penn.
Piscatelli, a 40-minute drive from Newtown, sent out a call to her friends, who called on their friends. The project she thought up just Sunday spread quickly on Facebook and websites for knitters and crafters, with the first shipment of books and mittens scheduled to land in Newtown the first week of January.
“I thought, how are those families ever going to get back in a routine of sending their children to school? If there ever was a town that needed to know about that book, it was Newtown,” said an overwhelmed Piscatelli, who now has a warehouse stacked with 1,600 copies of the book and plenty of volunteers to sort, pack and ship.
Others are hurriedly making mittens, from California and Canada to Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands, in time for the start of classes in a once-shuttered school in nearby Monroe. A knitters’ group in Georgia pulled an all-night “knitathon” for the cause, Piscatelli said.