McMurry Professor talks Inspirations and Publishing Process for Children’s Book

Issue 28: April 17, 2024

One thing I love about McMurry is we all cheer the loudest when someone needs to be recognized. Assistant Professor of Kinesiology and Health Fitness, Shanna Moody has an amazing accomplishment that I got the opportunity to talk to her about. She published a children’s book; the title of the book is How to Make a Peanut Butter & Jelly.

The description of her book is quite interesting and sounds like a book that many children will enjoy and maybe even learn a lesson from. The description of the book states “When the horses on the Hat Creek Ranch get turned out for the Spring, they are ready to enjoy all of the freedom and fun found on the ranch. But not every horse is welcome at the watering hole. Jelly, a roughie, makes it known that the timeys, Peanut and Butter, shouldn’t cross the fence to leave the field. These two groups don’t get along at all! But, will they be able to overcome their dislike when one of the horses is injured? Read along as Peanut, Butter and Jelly make new friends and overcome stereotypes in a time of need.”

She shared with me how this story came about, the idea for the book came about around 16-17 years ago when her son (now a junior in college at Sul Ross) was young and wanted her to tell him stories while they did barn chores together or were riding in the car on trips. At the time, they had a couple horses but also three kittens named Peanut, Butter, and Jelly. Her son has always been a cowboy and wanted stories that he could relate to. So, she changed the characters to horses. Peanut is a tough dun colored ranch horse. Butter is a beautiful palomino mare with a long mane and tail who runs really fast in barrel racing. Jelly is a huge stalky black and white horse who looks intimidating but is just an easy-going horse, with a goofy laugh.

When she told the stories to her son, she would make up all kinds of adventures for the horses to get into and try to incorporate a lesson. She had the idea of turning the stories into books all along, but never could find an illustrator and didn’t know any other authors to go to for advice. She finally got on Fiverr and found a few illustrators. She hit it off with one of them named Allie Daigle. She does not live in Texas, is not familiar with rodeo, and they have never met in person. Shanna explained that Allie did an amazing job with the illustrations and really captured the personalities of the horses exactly how she had envisioned them. Allie Daigle also did all the formatting for publication. Moody expressed that there was a lot of googling involved in the publication process. She ended up self-publishing, and her book is now available at most major online book retailers, and she is taking personal orders for people that want autographed copies. She is in the process of creating a marketing plan. She has a few interviews lined up and is working on doing some book signings and promotions at other events across Texas. And now they are beginning to work on the 2nd book in the series: Peanut Butter & Jelly Save Christmas in Texas. She hopes to have it out before the end of the year, with more in the series to follow.

She has a wonderful and inspiring story. Congratulate Shanna Moody on this amazing accomplishment, she has put in a lot of work for her series.