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The cover of Scott Carpenter’s newly-released children’s book is shown.

Even while launching his first book project, Scott Carpenter has found himself in the shadow of the astronaut of the same name.

During the first week in July, the lesser-known Carpenter released his first book, a children’s tome called “Little Pepper Muffin,” via Tate Publishing. The 24-page paperback is available for $8.99 at various bookstores and through several Internet outlets, including Google Books. However, in Google Books’ author’s biography for “Little Pepper Muffin,” information on Carpenter, one of the Mercury Seven astronauts selected for NASA’s Project Mercury in April 1959, is included.

“I’ve lived in that man’s shadow my whole life,” said the West Virginia Carpenter, who was born in Gauley Bridge, grew up in Charlton Heights and was an employee of Montgomery Drug. He said his former family doctor, the late Dr. R.S. Birckhead, would joke with him about being the astronaut when he was growing up.

Carpenter, 50, currently resides in St. Albans. Over the past 25 years, he has written mainly scripts for plays, and he and his family have performed musical dramas he’s penned.

The website for Tate Publishing gives the following description for Carpenter’s book: “Pepper Muffin can’t walk very well. She has a disease that makes her have to use braces on her legs and crutches on her arms. But she never lets that stop her from pursuing her dreams! Little Pepper Muffin and her father both join the competition to see who will bake the muffins for the mayor’s annual Potato-and-Vegetable-Soup Dinner Extravaganza. Will Pepper Muffin’s pepper muffins take the prize?”

Carpenter dedicated the book to his nephew Westley Groseclose, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, the same disease which afflicts the protagonist in Carpenter’s book.

Of Little Pepper Muffin, Carpenter says, “She’s not able to run and play like the others, but she’s very energetic and has a lot of dreams.”

Fifty percent of the book’s profits will go to muscular dystrophy research.

“I feel like I’ve got 10,000 stories in my head,” Carpenter said. “I’m always jotting down ideas.”

He said his nephew’s MD diagnosis brought about a period of “deep thought” for the family.

During that process, he was looking through his files and stumbled across his notes for Little Pepper Muffin and decided to write the book. “I was very pleased with it.”

The book was illustrated by Tate Publishing with a great deal of input from the author.

He says reaction from family members makes him feel the final product is a good one. “The biggest critique is my family, and a couple (of them) said they began to cry when reading it. I knew I had something then.”

He’ll wait to “see how this goes” before deciding on writing another book. For now, in addition to promoting the book, Carpenter is writing dramatic monologues and scripts for a Christian music company called Bible Truth Music.

For more on “Little Pepper Muffin,” visit www.tatepublishing.com or “Little Pepper Muffin” on Facebook. The book is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, among other sites.

Carpenter hopes to schedule a book signing in the UKV in the near future.

— E-mail: skeenan@register-herald.com

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