Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Ellen Feld is talking with Nancy Youngdahl, author of The Ruth Adventures: Life on the Farm.
FQ: Ruth, the star of your book, is an adorable little girl. Is she based on anyone? Perhaps one of your granddaughters?
YOUNGDAHL: Not this time. I picked Ruth from examples of several illustrators. I knew how I wanted her to look and described her size, hair and clothing.
FQ: You seem to understand what “life on the farm” is like. Do you, or have you ever, lived on a farm?
YOUNGDAHL: My grandmother and aunt had vegetables, flowers, and chickens...a good friend lived on a large farm with animals, farm equipment, cattle, and milking barn as well as fields of various vegetables. Also another family had huge acres of corn and soybeans, and wheat plus farm animals.
FQ: In my review, I mentioned the episode with Ralph, the donkey. This is a heartfelt story and Ruth learns an important lesson. Do you think that many of today’s children are given a “pass” about taking responsibility when/if they realize they might have been at fault?
YOUNGDAHL: Yes I do. Ruth is being raised in "my style" of teaching and I instructed my children to always take responsibility for their mistakes, always tell the truth, accept discipline when necessary, and because she is part of a large family, to share in chores. Ruth enjoyed outdoors and was a free range little girl.
FQ: It was refreshing to read a children’s book with a message about God’s love and the importance of family. What do you want readers to come away with after reading about God’s love in Life on the Farm?
YOUNGDAHL: I found it hard as a child to see God as a loving father, but as I grew older and attended church, I learned that my God cares and loves all of creation, which includes humankind. This was an important lesson for me to share with all children.
FQ: I found your “Note fort Parents” at the front of the book, about abusive fathers, interesting. Why was it important for you to include that note?
YOUNGDAHL: Because I felt it necessary to have my readers (all ages) realize that whatever our home environment and how we are reared, we need to know that God loves and cares about us, even when life is rough!
FQ: Life on the Farm is the first book in “The Ruth Adventures” series. What was the idea behind the series?
YOUNGDAHL: Fun stories about love, friendship, and even problems that may arise in Ruth's young life.
FQ: Your next book will be another in the Ruth Adventures series. Would you tell us a little about this new book and when we can expect to see it.
YOUNGDAHL: My second book is now available, entitled Ruth Adventures, Best Friends Forever. The story stresses friendship and it's importance. MY first grade actually had a sweet girl named Sue, who took me "under her wing." We are still friends. Sue is a "city girl" who has never been on a farm. The third book in the series will again include Sue as she and Ruth attend "summer camp." I believe children are taught negative racial issues and if reared in a loving home, they DO NOT NOTICE SKIN COLOR, especially when they are young!
FQ: One of your hobbies is watercolor painting. Do you think you’d ever consider doing your own illustrations for a future book?
YOUNGDAHL: I HAVE! My book entitled Remembering Joseph Chickadee, includes ALL of my own illustrations. This book teaches young children about death....maybe a grandparent or friend. I did a lot of research about chickadees and passed on information about these tiny birds and even how to make a suet "meal." It was my second book after My Nana Was A Free-Range Kid, using a different illustrator. This book is based on my childhood in the 50's. Honestly, I do not draw people, but have painted animals, flowers, and landscapes which sometimes include buildings. All my book covers, reviews, and synopsis can be found on Amazon.com.
FQ: I love that you’re involved with church fellowship. It seems this is really lacking in today’s society. Would you tell our readers a little about what is involved and why you enjoy doing it?
YOUNGDAHL: Church is the best way to meet positive friends who share similar beliefs. The Bible study group is another way to study the Bible, become good friends with a smaller group of believers, including having meals together or other fun activities.