When Ruth Anne (Rippel) Schneck sat down to write a story in 2005 about a young bear’s journey to the North Pole to meet Santa Claus, the intended audience for the delightful holiday tale was a modest one- her very own family. Much like a tiny mustard seed, the project began to grow over time for this La Porte City native who returned home in 1967 to teach kindergarten at La Porte City Elementary School for the next 32 years.
Following her retirement from Union Community Schools in 1999, Ruth Anne put her extensive classroom experience to good use, working as an adjunct instructor for Upper Iowa University (UIU), where she taught aspiring teachers two courses- Methods (how to teach) and Children’s Literature, a topic that has been near and dear to her heart throughout her career as an educator. In addition to her teaching duties at Upper Iowa, Ruth Anne also supervised student teachers for 15 years.
As any good storyteller knows, even the best narrative can benefit from illustrations to help make a story come alive. In 2006, Ruth Anne enlisted the help of a graphic artist to create a handful of initial sketches, which allowed Geoffrey’s Christmas Wish to get its first exposure to a larger audience, appearing in The Progress Review as a multi-part series. Still far from becoming a full-fledged children’s book, Geoffrey’s story remained on the back burner as Ruth Anne continued this new chapter of her life at UIU, traveling and then marrying Ron Schneck in 2007. As this chapter of her life unfolded, Geoffrey remained patiently waiting in the desk drawer.
After retiring from Upper Iowa in 2016, she returned to the project with the realization that the publication of Geoffrey’s tale in storybook form would require many, many more illustrations than what she had. After careful consideration (and a little bit of doodling), Ruth Anne had an idea how to proceed. Throughout the winter months, she sat at her desk, sketching and coloring, creating the images that would ultimately bring Geoffrey’s adventures to life on the printed page.
At long last, more than ten years after the initial idea to write Geoffrey’s Christmas Wish was first imagined, the story Ruth Anne created for her family is now available as a spiral-bound book for all to enjoy. This holiday tale, suitable for all ages, is more than just a Christmas story. It’s a chapter book, a coloring book; a volume filled with vocabulary, astronomy and geography lessons. It’s also a story of adventure, courage, and the importance of family, one that encourages the reader to be curious, helpful and kind to others.
On Wednesday, June 27 at 6 PM, the community is invited to attend a special program at Hawkins Memorial Library where Ruth Anne will share the story of Geoffrey’s Christmas Wish with the audience and sign copies of her new book. True to her generous nature, Ruth Anne will donate a portion of the book sale proceeds from this event in support of Hawkins Memorial Library’s local history project, which will make the content published in back issues of The Progress Review, La Porte City’s local newspaper dating back to the 1870s, available online.
Geoffrey’s Christmas Wish
Join author/illustrator and former La Porte City Elementary School teacher Ruth Anne Schneck for a program and book signing event on June 27 at 6 PM. Ruth Anne will present a brief program and sign copies of her new book Geoffrey’s Christmas Wish. Kids of every age are invited to come early (5:30) for a coloring session- Geoffrey pages and colored pencils will be provided.
A free Charter Member Certificate to Geoffrey’s Fan Club will be presented to attendees. These limited edition certificates are only available for those attending Ruth Anne Schneck’s presentation on June 27.
Buy two books and you’ll get a FREE 12×16 poster that you can finish coloring to frame later.