Local author uses her noodle to pen new children’s book

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published November 10, 2020

 “Oodles and Oodles of Noodley Noodles” is about a little girl who loves noodles.

“Oodles and Oodles of Noodley Noodles” is about a little girl who loves noodles.

Image provided by Cindy Ninni Grant

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — Lasagna, macaroni, linguini, spaghetti.

Charli is a little girl obsessed with noodles, brought to life by Cindy Ninni Grant, of St. Clair Shores.

Grant is the mother of four sons ages 29-36 years old. She taught kindergarten at a private school in Detroit before opening an in-home daycare in Farmington Hills for the children of local teachers for 20 years. When she retired, she and her husband moved to St. Clair Shores to be closer to the water. She considered becoming a substitute teacher, but her son, Ari, had a different idea.

“He said, ‘Why don’t you write that children’s book?’” Grant said. “He’s the one that pushed me to really consider that I should do it.”

When earning her master’s degree more than three decades ago, Grant had written her thesis on writing a children’s book, but at that time the only option for publishing was to get an agent and get noticed in a competitive market. But with all the resources available for self-publishing, Grant decided that now was the time to move forward with an idea she had about a book featuring a child who adores noodles.

“My husband, he eats noodles literally every day. I don’t know anybody who eats noodles like he does,” she explained. “I would make dinner and he would say, ‘Where’s my noodles?’ even though I have an entire dinner (prepared).”

That’s why “Oodles and Oodles of Noodley Noodles” is dedicated to her husband, Barry Grant.

Like her husband, the star of the book, Charli, is obsessed with noodles. Using rhyme and illustrations by Katie Weaver, Grant tells Charli’s silly, lyrical story, about a girl with an abundant imagination and a love for all noodley things.

The book didn’t start in its current iteration, though; the main character was initially a boy named Grayson, who was based on a child at Grant’s daycare who dined at his grandmother’s house each week on “Mac and Cheese Monday.”

Editors didn’t think it was the right fit for the story, however. The first editor thought the name Grayson was too trendy and another editor wanted to eliminate the part about him going to his grandparent’s house.

“Basically, they started getting rid of the main parts of why I wanted him in the story. That was quite upsetting,” she said. “I had to let it go, and when I was sweeping one day (I thought) it should be a girl and she should have spaghetti-looking hair.”

The girl is a compilation of a “mini-me” doll Grant owns and some girls she had over the years at her daycare.

“I have a couple different girls who think the character is them,” she said.

Although Charli is a blonde, blue-eyed girl with hair that is reminiscent of cooked spaghetti, her father is Indian and she and her siblings are a diverse blend of him and their white mother. Grant said she decided to give Charli a parent of Indian descent on purpose.

“I researched what children are least represented in children’s books,” she said.

She discovered that Indian children are the least represented, followed by Asian and Mexican protagonists. The fourth least represented ethnicity in children’s literature is Black.

“I wanted to include a lesser minority. I told the illustrator, Katie, that I’d like the father to be Indian and the family to be a blend of him,” she said.

Although “Oodles and Oodles of Noodley Noodles” was published just this summer, Grant has already written a second book featuring Charli’s family, including her Indian grandfather.

Grant said the process to publish her story was a learning experience. She met her illustrator, Weaver, through an online writing group and traveled to Weaver’s home in Virginia for four days to try to explain what she had envisioned for the story.

“You have to give them free reign after that,” Grant said. “I kept having to tell her, over and over again, it’s about noodles so we have to add more and more noodles.

“She’d say, ‘That’s not enough?’ and I’d say, no, it needs more!”

The hard work paid off. “Oodles and Oodles of Noodley Noodles” won the 2020 kidShelf Books Cover Design Award and The Mom’s Choice Award, among other accolades.

For more information, or to order a copy of the book, visit www.ninniauthor.com.

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