| Ravenstone Press
Stories of Kansas and the Great Plains
Fergus Falls - A Minnesota Childhood of the 1880s
by Marion S. Kundiger
Published July 2008
Full Color, Hard or Softbound
|The Story Behind the Story
A Family Legacy -
Three Generations Preserving the History of Childhood
Published April 1998
B&W line drawings
began in 1949 when Marion Kundiger's daughter Jerri was two years
old. Someone gave her a
“stupid” book for her
second birthday and Marion thought she could
better than that. She remembered stories her mother, Isabella
told her about her childhood growing up in Fergus Falls, Minnesota in
1880s and decided to preserve those stories.
Marion used correspondence with her mother and historical research to learn more details. She illustrated the thirteen stories with watercolors. Because she had no artistic training, she made her task far more difficult by painting on thin typing paper, but she succeeded in creating charming naive art illustrations that brought the stories to life.
Izzie’s stories were read to school classes in Manhattan, Kansas and the response was so positive that Marion submitted the book to several publishers. After some 28 submissions, she put the book aside. Life events kept her from working on or submitting the book after that and it became a family legacy through copies she made for her children.
Jerri always loved the stories and hoped to see them published someday. When she had sons of her own, the original "Izzie" was read to their school classes in Germany and Japan. Her family lived overseas while her husband, Peter, was stationed there as a U.S. Army attorney.
When Jerri was a graduate student in Educational Technology at
University of Hawaii at Manoa, her focus was on developing and testing
curriculum resources for the classroom. As her master's thesis
she re-wrote and re-illustrated Izzie to use in teaching history to
elementary school children.
A second-grade teacher read the book to her class and the children were tested for their knowledge of what childhood was like a century earlier before and after hearing the book. These children, far removed from the 1880s Great Plains, loved the stories and demonstrated a significant amount of learning. They loved the fact that Izzie was “a real girl.
Jerri, too, submitted "Izzie" to several publishers. Some liked the book but felt it didn’t have a great enough commercial appeal for their list. So, for several more years, "Izzie" waited.
In 1997, Jerri’s son, Peter Anthony, asked her about the book. He remembered it from his childhood and wanted it published for his daughters. So Jerri decided to publish it through Ravenstone Press and surprise her mother with the book for her 80th birthday. The expense of full color printing was too high to allow use of Marion’s watercolor illustrations at that time, so Jerri re-illustrated the book with black-and-white line drawings made from the watercolors, added photos and additional information, and published it in April 1998. The book’s formal debut was at the South Central Kansas Library System workshop in Hutchinson, Kansas on April 2, 1998. Jerri unveiled the book for the first time by presenting her mother with a gift-wrapped copy. Marion was nearly speechless.
Izzie sold well that day and has continued to
children. It is a favorite of grandparents, and teachers find it
valuable classroom asset for making history come to life. Marion
Jerri had a wonderful and successful author tour in Fergus Falls,
(where Izzie’s stories took place) in October 1998. They
programs in schools, at the library, and for the historical society,
enjoyed a book signing at a local book store.
During the ten years since Izzie was first published, printing
technology has changed. Now it is feasible to print a 56 page,
full-color version of Marion's original text and watercolors, and Izzie of Fergus Falls -
A Minnesota Childhood of the 1880s made it's debut in July 2008
at the Kundiger Family Reunion in honor of Marion's 90th birthday,
coming in September 2008.
This beautiful book is available in hardcover or perfectbound
softcover and is enriched with period photos of Izzie's family and the
town of Fergus Falls, historical notes, and an index.
|Izzie - Growing Up on the Plains in the 1880s
Comments posted on child_lit discussion November 2001 by Frances Moffitt Granatino
"Izzie is a marvelous memoir, consisting of Jerri's grandmother's youthful remembrances [with] drawings that just BEG to be colored in crayon. I can see why elementary school teachers use the book - it's a wonderful example of how a memoir, with interactive illustrations, can engage children. Coloring a book and learning about a time in history from a first person narrative at the same time? Win win."
Reprinted with permission.
|Geraldine & Marion||Izzie|
|Marion S. Kundiger and daughter Geraldine (age 2 1/2) on Thanksgiving Day, 1949, Manhattan, Kansas.||Isabella Anderson Swenson ("Izzie) in 1949 in Stoughton, Wisconsin.|
as they looked when Marion Kundiger began writing and illustrating the book in 1949.
|Izzie Shop on CafePress
Purchase lovely items featuring Marion Kundiger's Izzie watercolor paintings
More about Izzie and her family
Marion Kundiger's original watercolors for Izzie - Growing Up on the Plains in the 1880s
Izzie's family album - photos from the past
Teacher Resources for Izzie - Growing Up on the Plains in the 1880s
Fun for Kids - 1880s activities
Marion S. Kundiger
Izzie themes - links
Links to Fergus Falls, Minnesota websites - Izzie's home town
Teacher/Librarian Resources | Fun for Kids
The Secret of Whispering Springs | Twister Twyla
order forms for our books
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Last updated on August 6, 2008