If there are two things Minnesotans are familiar with they’re hockey—and squirrels. Hockey, especially in these parts, is arguably the favorite of the two. A former actress, who played a part in a hockey-themed film, which was filmed in this neck of the north, has tossed her skates aside in favor penning a book, which features a squirrel named Sam.
From being in the movie The Mighty Ducks (1992) to co-authoring These are My Pants, Jane Plank, who played Tammy the figure skater turned hockey player in the Disney movie, co-authored the children’s book with her wife, Katelyn Plank.
Why skate away from acting and toward writing? “I have always been open to trying new and different things,” Jane says. “I always try and picture myself as the 80-year-old me. What stories would I like to be sharing and experiences that I tried and did? I want to take on new challenges.”
Plank, who also was a featured extra in Jingle All the Way (1996), was motived to write the book, in part, from her experience sharing a home with Katelyn. “When we first moved in together, we combined our laundry and had a lot of pants. We shared a closet and would keep asking each other, ‘Are these my pants? No, these are my pants.’ We started to laugh and thought it sounded like a children’s book ... We decided to make the time to put our thoughts and laughter down onto paper.”
While this is a new venture for them, books have always played a large role in their lives. “Katelyn was a huge reader growing up, winning every book reading competition she could,” Jane says. “[I] really enjoyed reading to children [my] whole life, and this opportunity to share this story was the main motivator for us.”
Sam the squirrel is featured in These are My Pants and seems to have a penchant for collecting pants like the other squirrels collect acorns. “He changes his pants as often as he finds a fun, new adventure,” Katelyn says. Eventually, Sam meets another squirrel, who doesn’t have as many clothes or other items as Sam. That gives Sam the idea to share some of his clothing. “The single act of kindness and sharing leads to giving on a bigger scale,” Katelyn says. “Possessions that make us happy can make us even happier when we share them with others. Sam teaches us that an act of goodwill and generosity is a win for everyone.”
The message of sharing and helping is important to the couple. “… love is what makes this world brighter,” Jane says. “Sharing and giving is an extension of our love and light inside. Every day, we have an opportunity to breathe into our gratitude and find someone who needs the help.”
Speaking of sharing, 20 percent of the book’s proceeds will be given to Goodwill of Central and Northern Arizona. “The story unfolded as we started to write our book that the bigger message was not about our pants but about giving pants or clothing to others in need,” Katelyn says. “We then realized that we weren’t in it for us but for a bigger cause and message to share.”
The authors plan to make this book the first in a series of three or four titles, with Sam making cameo appearances. “The main concept will continue to be giving but with some additional twists,” Jane says. “Who doesn’t love a good plot twist?”
How does Jane feel about making a return to the big or small screen via the books coming to TV/film by way of a children’s series? “We are always open to anything,” she says. “If you know somebody …”