Young author finds success with pet book

Home » Arts & Entertainment
Posted September 10, 2021 | By Susan Smiley-Height

Juliana Henningsen is shown at Brick City Center for the Arts. [Submitted]

For many shoppers in the Ocala area, being greeted by a friendly pup or having a purring feline welcome you inside a business can be an engaging experience. In fact, that was the impetus behind a new book created by an enterprising local teenager.

Juliana Henningsen said that when her mom, Jeanne, would go to conduct some business at Phillips Graphics, she would “drop everything and go with her because they have a dog there, Griffin.”

And it wasn’t just that business, Juliana noted, there were several area venues she visited with her mom that had canine and feline “shop pets.” Thus was born the idea of featuring the animals in a book, with all of the proceeds going to benefit the Humane Society of Marion County.

“Shop Pets of Ocala” debuted on Aug. 28 during a Marion Cultural Alliance event at the Brick City Center for the Arts. Juliana, 13, was on hand to sign copies of the book.

“I was very excited but also a little nervous,” she admitted. “It was really wonderful to see so many familiar faces, including two teachers from Dr. N.H. Jones Elementary School.”

To create the book, Juliana visited a number of shops and “interviewed” the pets and snapped photos of each animal. The pets ranged from canines Poppie at The Graceful Gardener to Otis McDoodle of the McDoodle clan of Scotland at Fish-Heads Aquatics Inc., and felines Lord Byron at A Novel Idea Bookstore and Mama and Houdini at Leisure Living Furniture. Even the “Ocala Gazette” and “Ocala Style” shop pets Boots and Cisco got in on the action.

Juliana said the owners of the shop pets have been very happy with the photos and content.

“Mr. Hill at the Crafty Cobbler told me this project is something I could use on a college application and sets me apart from others. This surprised me and made me even more proud of the book,” she said.

Juliana enlisted the help of local author Amy Mangan to edit the text for the book.

“The Henningsens are close friends so when I heard about Juliana’s project, I offered my support. This was an ‘easy lift’ because I love Juliana and animals. And, the fact that she and her parents were donating proceeds to the Humane Society made my tiny assistance all the more gratifying,” Mangan stated.

Jeanne Henningsen said that what began as a small summer project “grew into a much larger endeavor due to the excitement and interest in generated in the community.”

She said her daughter “learned a lot about the time and effort that goes into creating a book like this and also the importance of giving back.”

“This has been a very positive and shared experience for our family,” she added.

As to whether other families might be inspired, she said, “Absolutely! People have been excited about a fun project benefitting an organization like the Humane Society.”

Juliana said people have responded to the book “very positively.”

“Many have said they are impressed by what I created, as well as inspired. It’s been great so far,” she noted.

As for her advice for other young aspiring authors, Mangan had this to share: “Hone in on your passion and let your words speak accordingly. I believe what made this book such a success is due, in large part, to Juliana’s big heart for animals. Her passion pours out on every page. Also, set your writing goals according to such passion, not toward publishing. I doubt Juliana went into this project thinking she’d publish a book — it was far more organic and authentic.”

“Shop Pets of Ocala” was designed by graphic artist Steve Codraro and printed by Phillips Graphics. Copies, at $25 each, with all proceeds going to the Humane Society of Marion County, can be purchased at many of the shops featured in the book and online at

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