Former Sandburg student authors children’s book

Former Sandburg student authors children’s book

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Sandburg High school graduate Ashley Pickens authors a new illustrated children’s book inspired by her late father who pushed her to enjoy art as a young child. The new book, Waddle with Scuttle or Swim with Kim, will be featured at a book party Friday June 12 from 5 pm until 9 pm at Barraco’s in Mt. Greenwood.

By Ray Hanania

Orland Park author Ashley Pickens

Orland Park author Ashley Pickens

Former Sandburg High school graduate Ashley Pickens has authored a new illustrated children’s book “Waddle with Scuttle or Swim with Kim” that she will showcase during a book party this Friday at Barraco’s in Mt. Greenwood.

A resident of Orland Park and now attending Lewis University, Ashley Pickens illustrated the book, drawing on skills she learned from her father, Jeff Pickens, who passed away in 2008.

Her father’s passing muted her creative drive but she returned to her drawing and art interests when she entered Junior High School.

“I decided that I wanted to do something that would send a message to everyone, especially to the younger generations,” Pickens says. Her father’s memories inspired her to write and illustrate the children’s book.

“This book teaches young children that being unique is okay and helps them grow as readers.”

Pickens said the public is invited to the book party this Friday, June 12 from 5 pm until 9 pm at Barracos Pizza, 3047 W 111th Street, Chicago. For more information, you can call the restaurant at 773-239-3333.

“Waddle with Scuttle or Swim with Kim is filled with rhyming words and word families to enhance children’s vocabulary and reading, but overall has a great message and is a fun book for all children,” Pickens, 21, explains.

The new illustrated children's book

The new illustrated children’s book “Waddle with Scuttle or Swim with Kim” now available at and

At the age of 21, Pickens expresses, in her own words, that “we are all different and that is what makes us unique. Embracing and celebrating these differences brings out our purest emotion, LOVE! Life is about not knowing what is going to come next, but realizing that everything happens for a reason. Taking each moment that is given to us and making the best of it can change your life forever. Trust in your journey and be yourself. True beauty shines through acceptance, confidence, courage, and love!”

Ashley Picken’s book “Waddle with Scuttle or Swim with Kim” is available online at and

The book will also be selling it at The Kimberly Bond Boutique in Orland Park.

Show your support and attend the book party and help Ashley spread the book’s beautiful message to children everywhere!

Click here to like the “Waddle with Scuttle or Swim with Kim” Facebook Page


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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, and at, and at He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper,, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

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Ray Hanania