Former Sandburg student authors children’s book

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

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

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

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Blogger, Columnist at Illinois News Network Online
Ray Hanania is senior blogger for the Illinois News Network news site. He is an award winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist who covered the beat from 1976 through 1992 (From Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley). And, Hanania is a stubborn and loud critic of the biased mainstream American news media.

Hanania Chicago political beats and Chicago City Hall at the Daily Southtown Newspapers (1976-1985) and the Chicago Sun-Times (1985-1992). He published the The Villager Community Newspapers covering 12 Southwest suburban regions (1993-1997). Hanania also hosted live political news radio talkshows on WLS AM (1980 - 1991), and also on WBBM FM, WLUP FM, WSBC AM in Chicago, and WNZK AM in Detroit.

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, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. He currently is syndicated through Creators Syndicate. He has written for the Jerusalem Post,, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star of Lebanon, the News of the World in London, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, The Saudi Gazette, the Arab News in Jeddah, and Aramco Magazine.

Hanania's Chicagoland columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald, the Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News and the Palos Reporter newspapers.

He is President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

His personal website is Email him at: [email protected]
Ray Hanania