A Midwestern Christmas Tradition
[ Pickles the Dog, by Kat Socks ]
Story by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography with additional photos and illustrations provided by Ben Brick and The Good Kids
When Katherine Pendergast was growing up in Bismarck, N.D., she never dreamed she would one day be an author better known as Kat Socks. When her first book, Pickles the Dog, landed in the top one percent of children's books on Amazon, it seemed Pickles' story had sparked magic. Just in time for the holidays, we got the chance to interview Socks, who has recently released her second book in the series, Pickles the Dog, A Christmas Tradition. This is the real-life tale of how Kat Socks befriended an abandoned dog who would quickly become the inspiration for an award-winning children's book series.
Pickles the Dog, Adopted in North Dakota
"Pickles was the inspiration for the book. I'm not a writer by background, but I just really felt like this was something I wanted to share and talk about," said Socks. While in the first book, Pickles is adjusting to her newly adopted home, the second book focuses on family time with Pickles and how they can give back during the holiday season, a value she wants to instill in her own four-year-old. Socks also donates a percentage of her book sales to local animal shelters.
“Every animal deserves a loving home, and I appreciate all the love and support that animal shelters provide to pets in need.”
Pickles the Dog, A Christmas Tradition
For a fun holiday twist in her new book, Socks incorporates the Midwestern tradition of hiding a pickle ornament on a Christmas tree; whoever finds it receives an extra gift. Hidden pickles can also be found throughout the pages and a matching Pickles the Dog ornament is now available; whoever finds Pickles, gets the book.
“I wrote this book hoping to inspire children to create their own family traditions at Christmas time,” says Socks. "Part of this book was inspired by how I got my three-year-old interested in giving at Christmas time and I wanted to encourage others to get their young kids interested in giving. We made a list of everyone he knew and what they liked, then he picked out everything. Kids at a really young age can get excited about giving too."
To create the award-winning illustrations, Socks found talent right in her own Midwestern backyard. Ben Bricks, a Bismarck illustrator, suited the role to perfection. "I was looking for someone who really enjoyed drawing people and animals - I wanted them to be amazing and it to look like a gift - it was a dream, an image of what I wanted with the hard cover and foil. It was Ben's favorite thing to draw, and I talked a lot about the emotions I wanted to portray," said Socks. "He just nailed it and did an amazing job - the artwork has a vintage style that people really like."
"When I wrote the book, the original character's name was not Kat, I think it was Sara - and, I wasn't going to use a pen name," said Socks. The only artistic direction she gave Brick, was her age. He took Sock's image, along with his sister's image, and combined them. "Since the character kind of looked like me, we changed her name to Kat - kids had a hard time saying Katherine, but everyone thought it was fun to say Kat."
To see more of Brick's illustrations, go to: www.benbrick.net
Get to Know Kat Socks
Katherine Pendergast is a North Dakota native and best-selling children's author who now teaches classes on self-publishing and writing books. She was born in Bismarck, graduated from North Dakota State University and received her Masters at the University of Mary. She worked for the UND Aerospace Foundation in Grand Forks many years, before moving back to Bismarck to raise a family.
Sock's first book has been ranked in the top one percent of children's books on Amazon and has been a best-selling children's book at Barnes & Noble. Socks and her illustrator, Ben Brick, have won top honors from the Independent Press Awards, finalist recognitions from Next Generation INDIE book awards, and an award from kidsShelf Books in recognition of their cover design. Socks also received the honor of having her book selected to be in the library in Washington state by American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference & Exhibition. Just this past month, Sock's first book was awarded a Gold in the category of "Picture Book – Enhanced & Apps" by the Moonbeam Children's Book Awards.
The Story Behind Kat's Socks
Before Socks became an author, she created "Kat's Socks", a small, Bismarck-based baby boutique that hand-makes infant shoes. When Sock's son was little, she was having a hard time finding shoes that were comfortable, and an even harder time keeping his socks on. This led her and her mother-in-law on a mission to design soft and adorable shoes that would also secure socks. In the end, they'd created a pair for almost every outfit. "I received so many compliments on my son’s shoes, and people started asking if we could make them for their babies as well," said Socks.
To view the full infant line, go to: www.KatsSocks.com
Find the book
Sock's book can be found by going to her site or visiting one of the 40 locations across the country. You can also find it in all of the bookstores across the state, as well as local boutiques, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
On the Horizon
Sock's is busy working on another Pickles book that will debut next summer, but before then, she will be releasing Babies of the Badlands, a board book geared towards a younger age with baby animals that live in the national park. "I really love Medora, going there and hiking with my son. He loves books, and that's one thing that has really inspired me; it's an activity that we've really enjoyed together, and I always try to incorporate those things into each book," said Socks.
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Midwest Nest loves the culture from the upper midwest, and we are excited to share stories from around the area.