MILTON — What started as a passion for children, turned into a 30-plus-year traveling and speaking career advocating on children's behalf. Now Penny Lea has now taken another slightly different course — writing a children's book about bullying called "The Panicky Picnic."

Lea lives in the mountains of North Carolina with her husband Harry, 10 rescue dogs and 1 cat according to her press release. Lea, a mother and grandmother has addressed thousands of children in churches and schools during her presentations.

"My message is simple," Lea said. "You are beautifully and wonderfully made."

This is the first time Lea has attempted writing a children's book and this is also the first time her illustrator Tony Uriz, from Cantonment, has illustrated a child's book. The Panicky Picnic gently deals with one of the major issues in today's schools, bullying.

"Our target audience is elementary age school kids," Lea said. "One great lesson taught in this book is that kindness wins."

The characters in the book are almost all animals who experience bullying and come up with a solution. The book then has a series of questions to ask the children.

Lea said many children feel guilty about being bullied. They think being bullied is their fault and do not want to talk about it because if they admit the bullying, they have to own the problem.

Other reasons, including fear of being picked on more, can also keep a victim quiet.

During a reading last week at The Children of Milton non-profit home, Lea used hand puppets that match the characters in her books.

Lea hopes to find corporate sponsors for her books. The sponsored books would have the corporate name inside the books, which would then be distributed to foster homes, adoption agencies and any organization that advocates for children.