Gingko Finds Her Forever Home Review and Author Interview with Kathy Nieber
Kathy Nieber’s debut picture book celebrates adoption with a lovely story about finding a forever home filled with love. Sweetly written with charming illustrations, the reader follows along as Natalie searches for a forever home for her rapidly-growing Gingko tree. Not just any home will do, Natalie needs to find the perfect place for her beloved Gingko. Nieber’s sense of humor is evident as we learn the reasons some of the places will not work! You’ll enjoy sharing this truly heartwarming tale with all the young readers in your life. 5-Stars!!
ABOUT THE BOOK: Gingko and her human best friend Natalie set off on an adventure to find the Chinese tree a forever earthen home. Along the way, they encounter a rude dog in the park and a stinky lemur at the zoo. At last, they discover the perfect spot where the trees in the Conservancy welcome her with open branches. But then disaster strikes.
I’m so pleased to share an interview with Kathy Nieber-Lathrop, the author of Gingko Finds Her Forever Home. Kathy and I have known each other for many years through our membership in the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, so I’m extremely happy to help her celebrate the publication of her debut book—which was released less than one week ago! Congratulations!!
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing adventure so far?
A. A few decades ago, my fourth-grade teacher told me, “Kathleen, someday you’re going to be an author.” I already loved to read, so why not try. My writing career started. I was editor of my high school and college newspaper, writing almost all of the feature articles. After majoring in English and Education. I wrote and produced my first play for my seventh-grade students. My love of kids led me to get my master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. For twenty years I wrote developmental guidance lessons for classrooms and group curricula. After we adopted our two daughters from China, I wrote magazine articles about their angst growing up in a white family and a white community. After retirement in 2008, I started the next chapter (pun intended) of my writing career. With the publication of Gingko, I am now an author (and writer of six middle grade books and another picture book.) Thanks, Miss Yost for your belief in me.
Q. This is your debut book, which is such an achievement! Tell us about your inspiration for this beautiful picture book.
A. My soul-beautiful daughters, of course. Even before we adopted them, we were part of the Madison chapter of Families with Children from China (FCC.) We organized monthly potlucks for food, fun, and lots of support. We sponsored Chinese New Year celebrations. And sent our daughters to dance and Mandarin classes. My husband and I coordinated the annual camping trip. Natalie, one of the adoptees, brought a sapling to our campsite. The tree as well as our daughters are now grown, but the memories of those precious times around the campfire is stirred every time I visit the thirty-foot tree.
Q. Obviously, illustrations are such an important part of the picture book experience, can you tell us about your illustrator and those things you particularly liked about the illustrations?
A. Steven Andriantsiratahina was born in Kenosha, WI, but returned to Madagascar with his parents and three siblings when he was a child. Currently he is a student at Madison College and will graduate with an Associate Arts degree in Applied Arts in the spring. He is the graphic designer for the Yahara Journal. Most important to me, he is my daughter’s boyfriend and a truly gifted artist. His simple, graceful rendition of Gingko and Natalie fill me with joy.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about Pegasus Publishing?
A. Pegasus Elliot MacKenzie Publishing, a Britain-based company, has sold books in thirty-three countries over the past twenty years. They work with charities and support causes close to their authors’ hearts. The imprint Nightingale Books has a goal to “give a child the love of books.” So, am I. The Middleton Education Foundation will receive the entire proceeds of my book sales. Kids and books – what a great cause!
Q. That is a fabulous cause and a worthy recipient for your profits! Obviously, we know your jobs in education have been an important part of your life. Would you be willing to share with readers the other different types of jobs you’ve had? I always like to ask authors this, mainly because authors always seem to have had interesting job histories.
A. Do you want the short list or long? Of course, I did the waitressing thing. I remember coming home from work at the Holiday Inn and plopping down on the floor. I gave my little sisters some money if they would walk on my back. In between teaching jobs, I was the “Art on a Cart” girl. One summer I was a bookkeeper. I hated that job. Before I started my school counseling career, I was a patient advocate at the University of WI Hospital and a kid advocate at a day treatment center for adjudicated teens.
Q. If there’s anything that you wish you could go back and tell your “unpublished” self, what would that be?
A. Persevere, be patient, and grow tough skin.
Q. What sort of books do you like to read as an adult and what were some of your favorites as a child?
A. My tastes are really eclectic. Anything from a good mystery to a wacky story by Fredrik Backman. Actually, any book I’m reading at the moment is my favorite. I’m reading a historical fiction now – Daughter of the Reich. I loved escapism books when I was a kid (being the only reader lover in a family of eight chased me to the closet with my flashlight.)
I read for work and fun any middle grade book I can get my hands on.
Q. Can we look forward to more books from you in the coming months?
A. I’m currently querying Jack and the Snackasaurus, also illustrated by Steven. This one I wrote for my son to read to my grandson. It’s a funny story of Jack and his two imaginary friends who track down a Snackasaurus who’s eaten their cookies.
My first book I wrote after retirement was Lizzy Lin Sets the World Straight. Love that story about a spunky twelve-year-old Chinese adopted girl who has to figure out who she really is. The next in my six-book series, entitled MadCity Kids, is called A Lotus for Lizzy, where she goes to China and has to cope with the real Chinese calling her a banana (yellow on the outside, but white inside.) Zowie aka Zoe is about Lizzy’s crib mate from their Hunan Province orphanage.
Q. Before we move on to the Super Six list, is there anything else you want to tell readers about yourself or your book(s)?
A. Visit my website www.knieber.com to read more about me and my books.
Super Six List:
Fav Pizza Topping: chicken, artichokes on ranch dressing
Book You’re Reading Now: Daughter of the Reich
Coffee, Tea, or Both: Both, but they have to be de-caf
Fav Activity as a Child: Reading (I bet you already figured that out)
Most Interesting Place You’ve Lived: I’ve only lived in SD and WI. I love my home in Middleton even though it’s probably not too interesting.
Best Place You’ve Vacationed: That’s a hard one. I have Irish roots (like someone I know) and our trip there was spirit moving. New Zealand tops my list too.
Q. How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Thanks so much for hanging out with us today, Kathy!!