FJH teacher publishes first children’s book

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Teaching concepts of writing to sixth grade students is not only part of Friendswood Junior High teacher Gary Scogin’s weekday job but also the starting point for the creation of Penny, a main character in a children’s book he recently had published.

“Penny The Palomino Quarter Horse and Her New Shoes” is Scogin’s first book. The new children’s book was printed by Sarah Book Publishing and is available through and

Scogin has taught sixth grade language arts at Friendswood Junior High for 12 years.

“I took my years of teaching sixth grade language arts and applied many of the writing concepts into the story. It makes for a great lesson on teaching the five parts to a story as well as the literary elements that are needed when writing to make the scenes come alive for the reader,” Scogin said.

The idea for Penny originated from watching a horse get shoes.

“A couple of years ago, I saw a television show on the History Channel about a cowboy who was taking off a horse’s shoes and putting on new ones. This scene stuck with me for quite a while. One day I decided to see where this idea would take me and not too long after I had sat down to work on the story, Penny was born,” Scogin said.

In his book, Scogin has Penny overhear her owner mention that he was getting shoes for her the next day. The horse began to worry as she envisioned the type of shoes she saw being worn by the people around her. She saw only disaster in the thoughts of wearing sneakers with wheels, high heels, or boots.

Scogin wanted his readers to take something with them after reading the book and it centered on the physical trait of worry.

“Worrying seems to be a part of our human makeup. Most of the time, it is about things that are minor, trivial, and that which we cannot control,” Scogin said. “I wanted to create a character that exhibits that worry mentality and provide a story that shows the readers that worrying about something changes the outcome in no way.”

Along with the lesson to be learned, the book also offers a fun activity on each illustrated page. Readers are invited to find the hidden horseshoe in each illustration.

Scogin and his wife Aimee have two sons, Grant in second grade and Grayson in kindergarten. Both attend Cline Elementary in Friendswood ISD.

“As I began writing Penny, I thought how neat it would be for my two little boys to be reading a published book that their dad had written. They love Penny as much as I do and finding the horseshoes was an added element that they have really enjoyed. They can’t wait to see what happens next to the quirky worry-horse,” Scogin said.

The illustrator is Alex Ray of Orlando, Florida. Ray has worked on multiple contracts with Disney with one job being on The Lion King project.

“He did a tremendous job bringing Penny to life. He and I worked very well together and had the same vision for the book,” Scogin said.

Ray will work again with Scogin on a sequel starring Penny.

“There is a sequel to Penny waiting in the corral and is ready to go when the publisher gives me the nod. In this story, Penny gets into a very uncomfortable situation thanks to her owner, Mr. Dollarhide. She, of course, gets confused about something she overhears and decides to get to the bottom of the matter all to find out that there was never really anything to worry about,” Scogin said.

Scogin is also working on publishing two other types of work.

Along with the second book in the Penny series, he has some rhyming children’s stories and he is in the editing stage of his first young adult novel.

This story has two settings: One is in a small town in Texas and the other in a small town in Alaska. Some topics in the story include: Sled dogs, basketball, moving on in life after tragedy hits, and being true to yourself.

“Kids at the junior high level will really enjoy it,” he said.

When he is not writing, he enjoys hiking, swimming, finding a great hammock spot with my family, playing basketball with my boys, and training for the next Houston Half Marathon with his wife.

He also enjoys reading. His favorite authors include John Sandford, Jon Krakauer, Bill Bryson, and Jonathon Auxier.

A graduate of Texas A&M, Scogin received his Master’s Degree in School Administration through the University of Houston-Clear Lake.

Scogin has a message for his readers:
“Thank you so much for bringing Penny into your homes. I hope your children enjoyed the story and some memories were made sitting together as they hunted down those hidden horseshoes and giggled at the situations she imagined herself in. Stay tuned for Penny’s next adventure!”

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