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Children’s book uses porcupine to teach life lesson


Mennonite Church Canada/MennoMedia joint release
August 5, 2011
-Steve Shenk

WATERLOO, Ont. and HARRISONBURG, Va.— A picture book about a porcupine who learns how to deal with losing her precious quills is the latest release from Herald Press. The 40-page book is titled simply Quills.

The author and illustrator is Aaron Ratzlaff of central Kansas.

Porcupine is sad and embarrassed when her quills start to fall out. She believes no one can love a porcupine without quills. Then her friend Giraffe stops by with a special gift and a message of acceptance.

The book was inspired by Ratzlaff’s wife, Audrey, who suffers from alopecia areata, an auto-immune disorder that causes hair loss.

“Many circumstances leave us feeling alone, embarrassed, and unlovable,” said Ratzlaff. “Thankfully, God gives us friends and family who love us unconditionally, whether we are bald, hairy, or in between.”

Ratzlaff spent his childhood in Kansas drawing pictures and cartoons and writing short stories about his friends and family. His first illustrating job was for With, the former Mennonite youth magazine.

After graduating from Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kan., Ratzlaff worked at a public library. Surrounded by children’s literature, he began to apply his talent to picture books. The first book he illustrated was Fred and Mary by L. Kobie Wilkerson (Love II Learn Books).

Quills is available from Herald Press by calling 1-800-631-6535 (Canada) or 1-800-245-7894 (U.S.). Price: $16.00 CAD/$13.99 USD.

Herald Press is the book imprint of MennoMedia, a ministry of Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada.