Mom’s Choice Awards is excited to announce another post in our interview series where we chat with the inventors, designers, publishers, and others behind some of our favorite family-friendly products.
Good afternoon, Mom’s Choice readers! Thanks for coming to read the latest installment in our interview series. Today we’re sharing our sit-down with Andrea Cassell, Author of two books in the Kibby series, Kibby the Space Dog and Kibby Gets a Little Sister. We love Kibby and all of his adventures, so follow along as we get to know this award-winning Author!
MCA: Hi Andrea! It’s a pleasure to be able to chat. Can you go ahead and tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
Andrea: So much to say! I’m a former NFL, Miami Dolphins Cheerleader, 1972-1973, during their undefeated season. I went to college and majored with a BS degree in Special Education. I took graduate classes in child psychology at Wichita State University.
I have four children, two boys and two girls, as well as 3 grandkids, with one on the way!
In 1986, I was Mrs. Kansas. I also, by invitation, sang at the Miss USA pageant. I’ve performed jingles, voice-overs, and radio commercials. I used to be the lead singer in a popular cover band that was full of male lawyers!
I also had my own weekly TV segment called “Cassell’s Corner” on KSCW in Wichita. The show touched on cooking tips, recipes, DIY projects, health and beauty, and a lot more.
My first book was actually a cookbook titled Nahima’s Hands: Unique Mediterranean Cuisine Cookbook, a compilation of recipes from my grandmother, as well as original recipes I created. I love cooking and entertaining. I taught cooking classes for several years at a local store. Food, family and friends are all an important part of my life. My two sons actually have 4 restaurants in Kansas and do very well.
In my spare time, I enjoying painting with oils and acrylics. My painting are in my home, parents, children’s, parents and friends homes.
MCA: You certainly are a woman of many talents! You’ve had such a variety of fun projects over the years. Obviously your pal Kibby is another big part of your life. Tell us all about your Kibby!
Andrea: Kibby is now seven years old- born on St. Patrick’s Day! I named him after an Arabic dish, called kibbie. From day one he has brought so much joy into our lives and everyone who meets him. He also loves to be photographed, playing frisbee, and playing chase. He’s incredibly warm to children and adults… Kibby is the best dog we have ever had.
MCA: He really does sound special. So, besides Kibby being the greatest dog around, what inspired you to write your books?
Andrea: I knew Kibby was a special dog because of the effect that he had on others around him.
When he wore his cone of shame due to stitches, I noticed how the children in our neighborhood didn’t want to be around him. I thought that was interesting, and wondered why? Was it because he had a cone around his head?
My mind went back to my teaching days, when other kids would make fun of and tease my students. This inspired me to write a book all about not judging others for the way they look, or because they’re different.
Using Kibby was my personal way of conveying this important message- who doesn’t love a good dog story? I started writing and it just poured out of me.
I found an illustrator who shared my vision, and Kibby the Space Dog was born! A musical was even produced by the Wichita Children’s Theatre with local adult actors, music, and lyrics from writers in New York. It was a huge success!
I then wrote Kibby Gets a Little Sister, which helps to teach kids to get along with siblings. I knew this all to well, having four kids. It’s a delightful story about how Kibby reacts to a new dog in the house.
MCA: What great lessons for children and their families to learn through the lens of Kibby’s adventures! What kind of response have you received from readers of the Kibby books?
Andrea: I have been in four magazine articles, 10 newspaper articles, and lots of social media press.
I have been overwhelmed with how each of my two books have touched not only children, but adults, teachers, librarians, counselors and administrators. I get emails and letters daily, thanking me for my stories and the impact my books have made. This warms my heart, and makes this journey so gratifying! It’s been a blessed one that I never expected.
MCA: That is wonderful! It’s so nice to know how far-reaching yours and Kibby’s influence has gone. Do you have any future plans for your Kibby books?
Andrea: My third Kibby book, titled Kibby and Olive Move to Georgia, comes out in April of 2020!
Kibby experiences an unexpected adventure when his parents move him from his home and the friends he loves.
His story is just a timeless treasure. Kibby, my husband and I moved to Greensboro, Georgia this year. It was such an easy book to write as I saw how Kibby reacted to his new environment.
I hope to win the gold Mom’s Choice Award for this book as well! My illustrator will stay the same through all of my books. I hope to continue with the series, and continue helping children learn life lessons through the eyes of Kibby!
MCA: Andrea, we are so glad we got to learn more about you and Kibby through this interview. Thanks for giving us your time! Stay tuned, everyone, for Kibby’s newest adventure coming out next year.