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College of Humanities & Fine Arts

English Professor Wins Indie Reader’s Discovery Award for Children’s Book

Professor Teresa Traver, California State University, Chico Department of English, was honored recently with a 2020 Indie Reader’s Discovery Award for her book, “Spooky and the Gargoyle,” in the Children’s (Board Books and Pre-Reading) category.

“I was very happy to win this award, because I was so proud of the book,” Traver said. “It was such a special story to me that I chose to self-publish it, and winning the award seemed like confirmation that other people found it special, too.”

The Indie Reader's Discovery Award recognizes seeks to find the best of the best to set a title apart from the rest and increase a book’s chance for discoverability. Authors self-submit their books to Discovery Awards. An IR Pro reviewer reads and judges the book on its merit. Books with a 4-plus rating go on to be read by the judges (journalists, reviewers, editors and PR pros) who determine the winners. There are first, second and third place winners for fiction and nonfiction categories and winners for different subcategories. Top winners are sent to Dystel, Goderich and Bourret Literary Management to be considered for representation.

“Spooky and the Gargoyle” is a children’s book for children ages 4­–8. A timid little kitten named Spooky is frightened by her new home, the old Maxwell place. She finds an unexpected companion in the gruff gargoyle who guards the gates . . . but can she turn this curmudgeon into a new friend?

The story was inspired by Traver’s son, who liked to hug their gargoyle statue goodbye on his way to preschool. But bringing this story to life became a team effort.

“Since I’m not an artist, producing a picture book is a bit of a partnership, and I want to give a shout out to my illustrator, Ariana Dahlenberg,” Traver said. “Her artwork was amazing and so perfect for the setting and characters. She deserves credit, too. “

“Spooky and the Gargoyle” has received great reviews from readers. Stacey Lynn left a five-star review on Amazon, commenting “I used this in my classroom as a way of talking to my class about courage. My students loved it. In fact, it is currently in someone's desk!”

Angie Anders, another five-star reviewer wrote, “This tender story of a tiny kitten, who slowly gains courage, with the help of a most unlikely friend, is full of heart and lovely illustrations . . . Darling book for both young and old! Highly recommend!” 

Traver teaches British literature and literature of the child. She earned a BA in English and life sciences from Kansas State University and a PhD in English from the University of Notre Dame. Her scholarly work has appeared in journals such as Victorian Review, Victorians Institute Journal and Women’s Writing. She wrote the academic monograph “Victorian Cosmopolitanism and English Catholicity in the Mid-Century Novel.” Additionally, one of her short stories is featured in the 2020 issue of the children’s magazine Highlights Hello.

“Dr. Traver started teaching ENGL 342W (“Literature of the Child”) as a service to the English department,” said Tracy Butts, interim dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts. “This service has evolved into one of Dr. Travers' areas of expertise and now the publication of an award-winning children's book. What Dr. Traver has accomplished here is a perfect example of the teacher-scholar model.”

-- Story by Shelby Casey, publicity assistant, School of the Arts