Chanhassen teen John Browne’s book has been a long time in the making.
Browne, who is a senior at Minnetonka High School, first had the idea for his picture book “Quacky, Smacky & Tacky” around five years ago, but it wasn’t until 2017 when he put pen to paper.
Released in late 2019 and illustrated by family friend Alan Tollefson, the children’s book tells the true story of three mallard ducklings raised by a young boy and shares tips on how to appreciate and raise wildlife in your own home.
But there’s been a new addition since its initial publication — an “award-winning” seal.
Browne’s book recently received bronze in the 2020 Moonbeam Children's Book Award for Best Youth Author. Judging was based on innovation, creativity, originality and design, and between three to five medalists out of hundreds are named in each category.
“I didn’t expect anything like that to happen, you know? I hoped it would sell OK, but I didn’t think I’d win any awards. I’m really happy about it,” Browne said.
The book is available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon, with a portion of the proceeds going to Children’s Minnesota for cancer research.
1 What is the 'true story' the book is based on?
When I was in first grade, the school I was going to had a program where students could basically adopt the ducks we had incubated. I picked three and brought them home. We raised them, fed them, housed them, and made a little makeshift coop outside. The book goes through some of the details, how to do it, and make it into a fun children’s story. Then at the end of the book, they flew away.
I did have to modify part of the story ... unfortunately, a neighborhood dog attacked one of the ducks. We figured the dog killing a small duckling might be a little graphic, so instead we had the ducking leave.
1 How do you feel about the book’s success?
I thought it would mostly be kids that read it, but a month or two ago, I got a letter from the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards saying I had won bronze for best book by a youth author. I didn’t even know I was in the running, but my parents must have not mentioned it to me. It was super surprising, but so cool. Now I can put “award-winning” in front of “author.”
3 Do you plan on writing another one?
If you had asked me a few months ago, I would have said I didn’t want to write more books. But then I won the award, and now I’m like, OK, maybe another one. They might not do as well, but I might as well try.
I’m still pretty young and I don’t know if I want to pursue a career in writing or anything like that, but I certainly have an interest in it more than I did a year ago. I think I’m pretty good at it, so who knows?