April 8, 2002
'The Rainbow Tiger' is happiest being herself
by Deborah Stone
Arts and Entertainment
Gayle Nordholm loves working with children. In addition to being involved with her own three kids, she also runs a daycare and preschool at her home on a small farm in Maltby. For most of her life, children have been her focus and as a mom, teacher and community volunteer, Nordholm has surrounded herself with kids of all ages.
One of her favorite pastimes is telling stories, particularly those with gentle messages and life lessons. "Children respond so well to stories and I love watching them as they take in the words and use their imaginations to visualize the action," comments Nordholm. "If you watch them, they respond with their eyes, their facial expressions and their body language. It's a great way to measure success as a storyteller."
Writing her stories seemed like a natural progression for Nordholm and with encouragement from her family and friends, she took pen to paper and began the start of what she hopes is a long and fruitful writing career.
Her first book, "The Rainbow Tiger," grew out of a story she created for her daughter, Michelle, several years ago. "Michelle loved to pretend she was a tiger and one evening when I was putting her to bed, she asked for a story about a tiger. I made up one right on the spot about this tiger who spies a peacock and desires to possess a coat as colorful as the rainbow feathers of the peacock," explains Nordholm. "It turned into a fable of sorts with a moral at the end."
In "The Rainbow Tiger," the tiger's wish is magically granted and although she is now a dazzling beauty, the other animals can see her and she is unable to sneak up on her prey. This leaves her hungry, unhappy and deeply regretful for her wish. After a long nap, she wakes up and soon discovers that her normal stripes have returned. Not knowing if she had actually dreamed everything or whether it had really happened, she comes to the conclusion that she is happiest just being herself.
It took Nordholm three years before her story became a book. She decided to self-publish it in order to have full control over the process and the end product. Although it was costly, she felt it was necessary to go this route in order for her vision to be fully actualized. "I researched lots of avenues," says Nordholm, "and I decided to self-publish because I didn't want editors changing my story and altering it to the point that it wouldn't be mine anymore. Self-publishing is expensive, but it's very gratifying and I will do it again."
As part of the process, Nordholm needed to audition illustrators for the pictures which would accompany her text. Jennifer Frohwerk, a graduate of the Seattle Art Institute, submitted several pieces to accompany Nordholm's text. "Jennifer was the clear and obvious choice right off the bat," explains Nordholm. "I immediately knew I wanted her to illustrate my book. Her work is beautiful and a perfect match for my story. We worked very closely throughout the process and I was delighted with the results. Her watercolors capture the fable perfectly."
Frohwerk's illustrations make "The Rainbow Tiger" a visual delight for readers. Her colors are lush and the images appeal to the senses and complement the simplicity of the text.
Nordholm is delighted with the positive reviews her book has received over the past few months and sales thus far have been good.
The book is available at Barnes and Noble bookstores, as well as through Amazon.com. "The people at Hara Publishing, the company I contracted with to do the publishing and distributing, have been great," says Nordholm. "They basically taught me the ropes and have given me such helpful advice at each stage of the process."
"The Rainbow Tiger" will have a sequel, according to Nordholm, and she has plans for other books of a whimsical nature. "I'm working on two stories right now," she explains, "and I have ideas for several more. Finding the time to write is the challenge because I teach five days a week and then I'm very involved with my family and in the community. But I have great support from everyone, which is most important."
Nordholm will be leading storytime at Barnes and Noble in Woodinville on April 27 at 11 a.m. She will read her book and be available to sign purchased copies.