Mother, daughter team up on book

February 06, 2005|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - A mother and daughter from Greencastle teamed up as author and illustrator to create a children's book that was published recently.

Patricia Nelson Fridgen, 49, said she started the chapter book "The Mystery of Apartment 2A" 12 years ago when she was living in Minnesota.

"It was rejected (by a publisher), and I let it sit," she recalled.

A few years ago, "I read it again and got some feedback, and I realized I needed to broaden it," by adding characters and changing the ending.


PublishAmerica Book Publishers, a publish-on-demand royalty publisher, brought it out in November.

A freshman at Greencastle-Antrim High School, Noel Fridgen, 15, spent much of the summer before eighth grade illustrating the book.

"I read the whole book, then mom gave me two suggestions of what to illustrate for each chapter," Noel said. "I chose based on the ability I know I have. Animals are hard." The book includes nine of her simple, but expressive line drawings.

Noel, the lone girl in a family of five children, said the drawings are not modeled on anyone. She uses no fancy equipment, saying she draws in a special notebook at the kitchen table.

"The Mystery of Apartment 2A" is about a 10-year-old boy who meets a 90-year-old man, "but the boy sees him as 45," Noel said. "They become friends. The old man is about to be evicted from his apartment, but he needs to stay in it to remain youthful. The boy tries to find a way to make this happen."

Mother and daughter held a book signing at the library in Greencastle last Saturday, and some of Noel's friends attended.

"They said to their moms, 'Why can't we do something like this together?'" Noel said.

History is Noel's favorite subject in school.

"I like learning about the past, about what happened to get us where we are now," she said.

Noel also plays volleyball and takes two classes a week in ballet and modern dance at Clarissa's School of Performing Arts in Greencastle.

Patricia Nelson Fridgen said she spoke to a group of elementary school children about the process of writing last summer, when she still was debating what to title the book.

"The students voted, they chose this title and I went with it," she said. "They were thrilled."

The author, who publishes under her maiden name, Patricia Nelson, said she writes in the morning when she's home alone. Whisper, an 8-year-old Shih Tzu, sleeps at her feet while she writes.

"(Whisper) was misnamed," Patricia Fridgen said when the dog barked enthusiastically at a visitor.

The Minnesota native has been writing since elementary school. She majored in speech and communication in college, later writing for a weekly newspaper in her home state.

A founding member of Potomac Writers' Guild, Patricia Fridgen has another book in print. "Cool Spring," a romance published in 2002, tells the story of a 30-year-old single teacher who moves to a small town to get a fresh start in life.

She is a third of the way through a sequel to "Cool Spring," she said, "because so many readers asked me, 'What happened next?'"

Another project is a nonfiction book for children about "interesting people in history who have been overlooked," she said.

While bookstores do not stock Fridgen's books, they may be ordered at bookstores or online at or

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