Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Mona Kerby and Owney

Mona Kerby, who is known for her book Owney, The Mail-Pouch Pooch, spoke during National Library Week at McDaniel College.

Mona was a kindergarten teacher and later a librarian. She wanted to write but said she was intimidated until she realized, with so many books in the library, some of those writers had to be ordinary people. She decided to give it a try. At first, she wrote non-fiction books about bees, health and science of the 50s.

She said it took her years to write and rewrite Owney, The Mail-Pouch Pooch. She contacted the U. S. Postal Service and Post Office Museum and researched newspapers from that era.  The book is a interesting story about a dog that adopted the postal service in Albany, NY. Staying with mailbags, the mutt travelled on trains throughout the country and even around the world. He became the mascot of the Railway Mail Service. 

After he died, postal workers raised funds to have him preserved. He is on display, along with his numerous tags, at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Postal Museum’s atrium. In 1911 the post office issued an Owney stamp.  More information about Owney is available at 

Mona’s book won the Parents’ Silver Choice Award, Vermont’s Red Clover Award and the California Young Reader Medal. Recently the book was published in Korean.

Some of her other books for children are:
38 Weeks Till Summer Vacation
America Earhart: Courage in the Sky;
Beverly Sills: America’s Own Opera Star;
Frederick Douglass
Robert E. Lee: Southern Hero of the Civil War
Samuel Morse

She also wrote Reading Fun: Quick and Easy Activities for the School Library Media Center.

 Some hints she shared with the overflow audience included:
Cite your sources. humor helps, have a blog, read newspapers and other publications for ideas (She emails ideas to herself from newspapers) and research books at the library, on your topic, similar to your story (What is different about your book?)

Mona is a professor of Library Science and coordinator of the graduate school Library Media Program at McDaniel College. For more information and fun projects for children, check out She also has a blog,

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