Pasadena resident and university professor Nancy Kunhardt Lodge has penned her first children's book, "The Crystal Navigator."
Lodge remembers being afraid of making mistakes when she was a young. That fear, along with wise advice from her pet Corgi, inspired her to write the award-winning book for middle grade students.
"The Crystal Navigator" is the story of 11-year-old Lucy who loses her confidence when her mind goes blank in school during an oral report. Her "Wise One," a corgi named Wilber, uses a gadget called a Navigator to take her back in time where she meets several famous artists, including Leonardo da Vinci and Vincent van Gough. In helping the artists solve problems, Lucy regains her own confidence.
"School anxiety in general is a topic that is overlooked," Lodge says. "Losing confidence is really scary, and she triumphs over it."
Lodge has a doctorate in Renaissance art history and has taught at Tufts, Boston and American universities. Writing this book was her first foray into creative writing and was more difficult than she thought.
"This was harder than writing a Ph.D. dissertation. That takes eight months; this took five years," Lodge says. "You have to think like a 10-year-old. ... I had to learn to write for children. It took a lot of editing."
The book has been a success, however. It has won several awards, including the Mom's Choice Award, and was up for the Black-Eyed Susan Book Award, which is a children's choice award in the state of Maryland. Lodge often visits schools and has received letters of high praise from students.
"I love ur [sic] book so much. I hope you continue to write," one student wrote in a letter to Lodge. "Your book is like someone finally finding sunshine."
Lodge is the granddaughter of Dorothy Kunhardt, the author of the children's classic "Pat the Bunny."
"I didn't really appreciate how much of an innovator she was," Lodge said of her grandmother. "That was the first interactive book."
"The Crystal Navigator," a chapter book for 8- to 12-year-olds, can be purchased from Amazon and other website bookstores. It is available in Kindle, softback and hardback and retails for $9.99.