Eye of the Tiger

Teacher thinks on her feet, gets book deal

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Teacher thinks on her feet, gets book deal

(COURTESY / DAWN KENNISTON)

(COURTESY / DAWN KENNISTON)

(COURTESY / DAWN KENNISTON)

MEGAN HUBER

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RHS dance teacher Dawn Kenniston brought her dance floor mindset into her lifestyle after taking a leap into becoming a published author with her children’s book, That Rat Can Tap!

The book features a boy named Parker – named after Kenniston’s own son — who has a dream about rats living in the attic. Within the dream, a rat named Fred teaches Parker the art of tap dancing, and when Parker wakes up, he puts on a performance for his father in order to keep the rats safe from the risk of getting caught in a trap.

Though Kenniston has a history of performance, writing is one art form she isn’t very familiar with. The idea behind her book was based off of her real life experience, though it occurred unexpectedly, and Kenniston chose to run with it and see where it would take her.

“[Writing a book] actually was never on my bucket list of things to do. It just came to me one day,” Kenniston said. “I was feeding my kid, he fell asleep in my lap, and honestly there were rats up in my attic. My husband was sitting next to me watching football and I just pulled out my phone and this book came to me in rhyme.”

Seemingly at the last step, Kenniston hesitated in deciding to self-publish her book. Although self publishing allowed Kenniston to give herself full control of writing, illustration, editing and profits, taking the leap and going through with it was a difficult endeavor.

(COURTESY / DAWN KENNISTON)

One of the hardest decisions Kenniston faced when publishing her book was deciding to go through with the publication process, as she was unsure of her abilities. One of the first steps to regaining her confidence was finding a willing illustrator with whom she could build a rapport.

“I wrote it about six years ago, and just kind of sat on it for awhile, and then found an illustrator who worked with me at a previous school,” Kenniston said. “I knew of her interest and I knew of her work and I knew she was willing to work for a, ‘Hey we’ll split the profits, I can’t pay you upfront’ so that was important too.”

Kenniston was also able to add a few more personal touches to her creative process by bouncing ideas and editing with the help of her friend – and her friend’s two kids. As a reward for their hard work, both children had characters named after them.

Advanced Dance student Sydney Oppenheim felt that Kenniston’s decision to add kids into the storytelling process helped add to the success of the story.

“She knows what they like and how to entertain them, so I think whatever she writes, it will be well taken,” Oppenheim said.

The book has spent a week as the number one Amazon’s Children’s Dance New Releases, along with having a five star rating.

Kenniston was initially not planning to write another story, but she finds herself being inspired by her son to write once more.

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