King Street Chronicle

A Paw and a Flipper make a splash to promote literacy

Charlie and Lily become close friends throughout the story.
courtesy of Abby Smith ’14

1000 copies of the children’s book, A Paw and a Flipper have just arrived on the Convent of the Sacred Heart campus. Co-club heads Marissa Licursi and Sydney Walker, the two juniors behind this books success, are very excited about showcasing the efforts of their club “Publishing Hearts,” and promoting world-wide literacy.
This children’s book is about a polar bear named Charlie who accidentally falls into the Arctic waters while fishing with his parents. He eventually gets carried all the way to Antarctica where he meets a small penguin named Lily.
“Together Charlie and Lily bring amusement and laughter to readers while capturing themes of unity, acceptance of others, and friendship,” Marissa said.
Marissa’s passion to help promote literacy started long before the creation of this children’s book. The summer before her sophomore year, she volunteered at the Carver Center tutoring elementary school students and came to realize how important reading skills are. Marissa’s experience inspired her to raise money that would be put towards promoting literacy and sparked her decision to create Publishing Hearts.
“I would help them with their reading skills and as they read to me, it really hit me that these kids
A Paw and a Flipper is now available for purchase on
courtesy of Marissa Licursi ’14

did not have the fundamental vocabulary they needed in order to succeed in school,” Marissa said. “Awareness of the alarming children’s literacy statistic in America coupled with my interest in writing; I came up with the idea of starting a club.”
Marissa’s hope for the following year was to start a literacy club, and after telling her friend Sydney, the two collaborated, and the club Publishing Hearts took off at the beginning of the next year.
Ten girls signed up for the club that first year and they all collaborated to brainstorm a story line for their children’s book during their day eight meetings. Club member, senior Becca Quirke thought that the brainstorming process was difficult, but she is thrilled with the outcome of the children’s book.
“We had to really get in touch with our inner child. We figured most books teach children some sort of lesson, and therefore we were faced with the task of determining and developing a lesson that would be fun and memorable for children,” Becca said.
After the story line was completed, the girls sought out an illustrator whose drawings would bring the story to life. After viewing samples of drawings from individual artists, junior Abby Smith was chosen to illustrate the book. Once the book was fully compiled, the revising process began.
“After Marissa and I molded all of the scenes from the girls, it was followed by many reviews by Dr. Mottolese as well as Mrs. Simpson our moderator,” Sydney said. “We then started to get in touch with lawyers to get an ISBN number as well as getting in contact with a self publishing company.”
Charlie the polar bear is the main character in A Paw and a Flipper.
courtesy of Abby Smith ’14

The publishing process went smoothly for the most part, but Marissa and Sydney did face a few issues.
“In the beginning of the year, Sydney and I undertook our goal with positive attitudes and high spirits. However, toward the end of the year, we did worry if the book would ever get finished,” Marissa said.
After overcoming resolution issues with the illustrations, the book was ready to enter the publishing process, and the club members started to think about which organization would receive the book’s profits.
After much discussion, the literacy organization Reach Out and Read was chosen to receive 90 percent of the book’s profits. This organization aims to help American children succeed in school by partnering with doctors who prescribe books to patients and encourage families to read together. The remaining ten percent of the profits will be split evenly between Sacred Heart’s  sister school in Uganda and the school’s Summer Academy program.
By purchasing A Paw and a Flipper, students will help Reach Out and Read continue doing the work it does to promote literacy in America.
For only 16 dollars this book can be purchased from the club’s website Marissa and Sydney are also selling books on Amazon, at Wake Up Wednesdays in conjunction with Convent of the Sacred Heart’s African Task Force, as well as in local book stores.
“Our starting goal for this year is to sell a total of 1,000 books, so we ask for your help as we embark on this challenge,” Marissa said. “In Publishing Hearts, our philosophy is that if you teach a child to read, they ideally will be in a better position to be in less of a risk of being homeless, jobless, or hungry. If you invest in educating a child, they will be much better off later in life.”
– Emily Hirshorn, Staff Writer

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A Paw and a Flipper make a splash to promote literacy