Kennebunk artist Danie Connolly had four book signings during Prelude last weekend to promote her two new Christmas children’s books, “The Third Turtledove” and “S.A.N.T.A. The Absolutely Perfect Brilliant Plan!” She is pictured here at the Nonantum Resort on Ocean Avenue where Connolly signed books during the Breakfast with Santa event. (Abigail Worthing photo)

KENNEBUNK – A local artist spent the first weekend of Prelude visiting with children and signing copies of her two new holiday children’s books.

Danie Connolly is originally from Peabody, Massachusetts, but moved to her beloved Kennebunk 25 years ago. While she is what she calls a “newly-christened snow-bird,” now spending her winters in Clearwater, Florida, she couldn’t resist a trip back to Maine to do a series of book signings the first weekend of Prelude, Kennebunk and Kennebunkport’s holiday celebration that spans the first two weeks of December.

Connolly not only wrote “The Third Turtledove” and “S.A.N.T.A. The Absolutely Perfect Brilliant Plan!,” she also illustrated them.

“The Third Turtledove” draws inspiration from the Christmas carol, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” In the story, a third turtle dove is looking for some quiet and relaxation during the holidays, but instead gets swept up in helping the other mentioned groups from the song, from French hens to milking maids and swimming swans, prepare for a party happening in a Christmas tree.

Connolly’s illustrations show the titular turtledove helping the geese find a place to lay their eggs and untangling calling birds from telephone wire, all the while yearning for a break. The conclusion finds the turtle dove in a cab, tired but having had a great time spent helping friends.

“The whole point of the story is that Christmas is a crazy, hectic time for everyone, and it’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it in the end,” Connolly said.

The plot of “S.A.N.T.A.” revolves around Chris and Mary Smart, an inventor and fashion designer, who move from the big city to the country with their dog, Rudy. The two come up with an “Absolutely Perfect Brilliant Plan” to market their newest invention, titled S.A.N.T.A. When a snowstorm derails the plan, the couple’s increasingly zany Plan B, coupled with a case of mistaken identity, ends with results even better than they could have imagined.

“At the end of the book, kids learn that when you’re persistent and keep working, everything turns out OK,” Connolly said. “You can do anything you set your mind to, even when obstacles stand in your way.”

The first of the four book signings took place Nov. 30 at Kennebunk Free Library. For each signing, copies of both books were available for purchase where Connolly spoke with both children and adults alike about the two stories, which have both been performed as plays in years past. The second signing, which took place at Coffee Roasters of the Kennebunks on Dec. 1, proved so successful that Connolly had to send out for more copies of the book, as she had sold everything she had brought with her halfway through the event.

“It’s been such a wonderful weekend, and I’ve been so busy, especially here with all these sweet kids dressed up to meet Mrs. Claus,” Connolly said on Sunday, Dec. 2, gesturing to the lobby of the Nonantum Resort, where she hosted the third signing during the hotel’s Breakfast with Santa event.

Connolly had planned to release the books last year for the holiday season. However, a health issue with her husband put the release on hold.

“Sometimes life can stop in a heartbeat. You have all your ducks in a row and then there’s a big wave,” said Connolly, whose husband has since made a full recovery. “It’s good to be back to normal and be able to enjoy painting again.”

Connolly has always done the illustrations for her books, of which she says she has written about 50, and has had many showings of her art locally.

Up next, she will release more children’s books, including “The Great Soapino,” a book about a bar of soap named Soapie who dreams of becoming a great magician.

Connolly was thrilled to be able to celebrate Prelude with her friends in Kennebunk. Connolly and her group of friends have had a notable presence in the annual Hat Parade, having been recognized for their costumes as “Merry Christmas Mermaids,” a flock of pink flamingos and sugar plum fairies.

“I love Prelude. I just think it’s so fun. My friends and I are known for being rowdy during the parade though,” said Connolly, laughing. “I have family and friends in Massachusetts and Florida, but my best, rob-a-bank friends are all here in Kennebunk.”

Copies of “The Third Turtledove” and “S.A.N.T.A. The Absolutely Perfect Brilliant Plan!” can be found at Coffee Roasters of the Kennebunks and online at Amazon. 

Contact Staff Writer Abigail Worthing at [email protected].

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