Malibu resident Anita Gnan took a giant leap last October when she launched her first children’s book, “Kibble: The Monarch Caterpillar Afraid to Get Wings,” printed by her own newly formed publishing company, West Creek Media.
Gnan said writing a children’s book was something she always wanted to try. A little over four years ago, “I woke up at 3 a.m., and the idea was there,” she said. “I started writing and I finished up with a pretty solid rough draft by 8 a.m.
“I had found out about how Monarch butterflies are dying—their populations are down 90 percent and they’re in danger of extinction,” Gnan said. “I wanted to honor them, bring awareness about them and have a product whose proceeds benefit them. Their decline is due to loss of habitat, and their numbers go down every year.”
The book tells the tale of a young caterpillar afraid to turn into a butterfly. He finds a mentor and friend, and learns to overcome his fears. The book jacket says the writing “focuses on nature, the environment and respect for all living things.” Gnan’s intent was to make the characters entertaining and down-to-earth, while weaving facts into the story about metamorphosis, pollination and the life cycle of butterflies, in terms a child can understand.
“It’s lighthearted and humorous, but educational at the same time,” Gnan said. “It’s ultimately a story of kindness and treating others well. You meet all the characters, and you see their quirks, but they’re still respectful of each other. I think we have to get back to being nice to each other.”
Among Gnan’s many talents is playing the piano, and she used her experience of giving private piano lessons to children for over 20 years in writing the book.
“You have to keep kids interested,” Gnan said. “You have to be structured, yet still show the fun side of music.”
The book is an illustrated read-along storybook that comes with its own audio DVD, featuring voices for each character and original sound effects. Anita herself voiced Samantha, the “friendly, down-to-earth rat,” and actors she knew from years of working in Hollywood voiced the other characters, including Larry the blackbird, Red the squirrel and Kibble the Monarch caterpillar.
Gnan said it took two years to get her own publishing company set up and another two years to get the book with DVD published. “If this book is successful enough, I’ll do future books,” she said, “maybe something on turtles.”
She likes the fact that having her own publishing company means she can now publish other authors “if someone sends me a good manuscript.
“I like the idea of working toward the betterment of communities,” the author described, “and I also like the idea of publishing books for all ages—not just children’s books.”
Gnan’s West Creek Media will have a booth at the City’s “Easter Hoppening” event on Friday, March 30, where she will be on hand to sign books and give away Kibble buttons and seed packets of “Kibble’s Wildflower Mix.”
“I’m hoping people will plant a little garden or even put the seeds in a pot on the balcony,” Gnan said. “I’ve been working with American Meadows Seed Co. to put together a seed mix that contains milkweed (needed by Monarchs) plus flowers for pollinators.”
Anita Gnan has been working in various movie and television productions for the past 22 years. Her accomplishments include acting roles in Sex and Breakfast (2007), Intermission (2004) and TheCampusHouse.com (2002); and being executive assistant to television producer Michael Brandman during the production of five TV movies 2005 to 2009.
The book is currently for sale at the 98% Angel children’s clothing store at Trancas Country Market and online at westcreekmedia.com/shop. A portion of the proceeds goes toward restoring Monarch habitat.