Rhonda Goodall of Ponte Vedra Beach is a children’s book author and illustrator. She has published five books to date.
As told to Maggie FitzRoy
Q: What type of children’s books do you write?
A: There is one theme to all of them: teaching kids love, happiness and kindness. They are also about dealing with real situations.
Q: What was the first book you wrote?
A: “Frizzle.” It’s the first in a series, so far of three books. The fourth is due to come out in the spring.
Q: What is the situation that the character named Frizzle must deal with?
A: I had been drawing this little character all my life, the one I later named Frizzle. Then one day, 11 years ago, I just came up with a story in my mind and wrote it. Frizzle realizes one day that he doesn’t have a family. He goes to his wise friend, Mr. Owl, to tell him he is feeling sad about that. Mr. Owl reminds him of all the friends he has in Happy Town, where he lives—friends that love and care for him, that truly are his family. Frizzle realizes Mr. Owl is right, and he is excited to realize he really does have a family. I loved writing it.
Q: What was your second book?
A: “My Pancreas Needs Glasses.” It features children with medical issues. Two brothers, based on two of my own children, are walking through their neighborhood and they run into people they know. Some have physical challenges and the brothers come to realize how many people they meet in a day who have some type of medical issue that you would never even know about.
Q: What inspired your second book?
A: My son Julian is a diabetic. Growing up, no other kid in his class had to take insulin shots. You realize kids do feel different when they are dealing with something. I wanted to write a book that would help kids realize that everybody has got a story. You don’t always see it, but everyone has got something to deal with, or someday they will. I made it a lighthearted, fun book. It won the Florida Authors and Publishers Association Presidential Award for a children’s chapter book for ages 7-12.
Q: What else have you written?
A: The second Frizzle book is “Frizzle’s Holiday Treasures.” Frizzle discovers a family in need and rallies the community to help. I asked local children to help come up with gift ideas. It is meant to inspire kids and teach them it’s not all about money. You can also give people a gift of your time. The third Frizzle book is “Frizzle’s Rainbow in the Clouds.” Frizzle befriends a turtle who needs help and helps him. It teaches kids that if someone is having a bad day, you can be kind to them. You can be their rainbow.
Q: What is your most recent book?
A: “Where Did Grandma Go?” It was published last summer. It was inspired by my mom, who we lost in a horrible accident. I wrote it through my youngest son’s eyes. He was sad and confused. The book aims to help children who have lost somebody. By the end of the story, the boy who has lost his grandmother comes to realize she’s in a happy place—heaven. And that she will be there waiting for him and will see him again. My goal is to make a difference in the life of every child I can. I try to do that through my books. To bring a real situation to life in a way that a child can understand and feel comfortable dealing with. It.
Q: It sounds like you are a woman of deep faith. Are you?
A: Yes. I always thought I was until what happened with my mom. But I came to realize I didn’t know what true faith was before that. I dedicated the book to my mom.
Q: Tell us about your family.
A: My husband is Doug. I have two grown stepchildren and 3 boys. Zach is 21, Julian is 18 and Sage is 9.
Q: Where did you grow up and how and when did you come to Ponte Vedra Beach?
A: I grew up in Pittsburgh. My husband’s parents lived here and when his mom’s health started failing, we made the decision we needed to be here. My mom also moved here from Pittsburgh. I’m still a diehard Pittsburgh Steelers fan. The Jaguars are number two.
Q: What do you do when you are not writing?
A: Mainly I’m drawing, working on the next book because I’m also an illustrator. I also love the beach. And I also spend a lot of time with our close family and friends.