Meet the author
Who: Donna “Abue” Frantz
What: Book reading and book signing
When: 10 a.m. Saturday, May 5
Where: The Toy Store, 936 Mass.
When Donna Frantz’s grandson was born, she wasn’t quite ready to be called “Grandma.” Instead, she decided to go by the Spanish-inspired name of “Abue” (pronounced ahb-way).
A few years later, the nickname has transformed into a pen name.
“Abue symbolizes me at my finest — warm, wise, happy, relaxed, and it’s from that energy that I write about Gil,” she said. “It just feels right.”
He’s the protagonist in Frantz’s book series, “Silly Gilly Gil.” He’s a multi-racial, bright and intuitive kid. He lives with his mom most of the week. His parents are divorced, so he spends one day a week with his dad.
He’s meant to be the poster child for how kids are these days. He deals with real-life situations like bullying, death and lying — but not always in traditional ways.
“It’s not like he’s perfect,” she said. “He definitely gets mad or gets angry or has negativity.”
Three of Frantz’s books have been published so far: “Bullying Hurts,” “Grandpa Harley’s Funeral” and “Best Buddies.” The books are aimed at children ages 4 to 9, but are also intended to provide a way for parents to talk to their children about real-life situations in a real-life way.
Not all of the situations Gil goes through are orthodox in children’s literature.
“In ‘Best Buddies,’ it’s the father who lies,” she said. Gil then has to decide how to deal with the situation. Can he talk to his dad about it? Is that something that’s off limits?
Frantz’s three books are available at The Toy Store, 936 Mass., and online through Amazon.com. She has written seven others that have yet to be published, and she’s currently working on writing the 11th book in the series.
“I don’t really see an end in sight at this moment,” he said.
Now that her own three children are adults, she has transformed her hobby of writing into her profession.
“I have all the time in the world to pursue my dream,” she said, “and this is pretty much my dream.”
Frantz and her family have lived in Lawrence since 1996. When her children were growing up, she volunteered at schools and going on field trips. Spending so much time with youngsters, she said, has helped her in her writing.
Now, Frantz said she hopes take Gil into local elementary schools to help children learn about how to deal with difficult situations.
Jennifer Ybarra, co-manager of The Toy Store, said Frantz’s series “fills a real need in the book world” about issues that are difficult to talk about.
Ybarra said most books about these topics are either too specific or too general for the parents’ needs. Frantz’s books are different, though, she said.
“Hers are really good about addressing the issue in a real, honest way,” Ybarra said.
The parent can then use the book as a springboard to have a conversation with their children about the topics.
“It’s just a good story. It’s well written,” Ybarra said. “You don’t see many books of that caliber on those topics, in my opinion.”