It was about the time Gabriella Girardi turned 4 that the questions started.
“Research shows that age 4 is the age when we ask the most questions. No other age on the planet asks more questions than a 4-year-old, ”said her mother, Tamara Girardi of Lower Burrell.
But what made Gabriella’s questions different was how she asked them — with a “Why?” at the start and a “Why?” at the end.
“It was kind of like a double whammy,” her mother said. “I loved that structure. We found it so fun and humorous as a family that we decided to write a book.”
Girardi celebrated the release of “Why, Daddy? Why?” in Gabriella’s first grade class at Mary Queen of Apostles Catholic School in New Kensington on Tuesday. They read the book together with Gabriella, now 7, asking the questions and her mother answering her.
While the children’s board book reflects the questions Gabriella asked of her mother and father, Domenick Girardi said she wanted it to be a “daddy book.” And in the book, father and daughter are illustrated as bears.
“We took those questions and turned them into responses that demonstrate that everything parents do is for their kids,” Girardi said. “Daddy is so tall so he can help his cub soar through the sky. He wears a watch so he knows when it’s time to give her a bubble bath. Everything comes back to the baby bear in the story.”
“Why, Daddy? Why?” is Girardi’s second book and her first children’s book, published by Familius. Her de ella first de ella, a young adult novel called “Gridiron Girl,” came out in March.
“Gridiron Girl” is the first book in a six-book contract Girardi has with publisher Wise Wolf Books.
The first four are sports books — “Disorder on the Court” is scheduled for release May 31, followed by “Ultimate Takedown” in August and finally “Shot Through the Heart” in November.
The final two books will be part of a different series and are in development.
Girardi, 40, grew up Tamara Simpson in New Kensington and graduated from Valley High School in 2000. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English and humanities from Jacksonville University in Florida in 2004, a master’s degree in fiction creative writing from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland in 2005 and a doctorate in English from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2014. In between her graduate studies, she wrote for the Valley News Dispatch.
She is an associate professor of English for Harrisburg Area Community College and teaches remotely.
“Why, Daddy? Why?” is the first board book Girardi ever submitted. It is suitable for ages newborn to 4.
“For it to get picked up by a publisher was really exciting,” she said.
That happened in August 2019. That it’s coming out just now was not a covid pandemic delay.
“It takes so much time to develop the illustrations for picture books and board books that usually the production time is very long,” she said.
The book will be available through online retailers and at Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont. It’s for sale on Amazon for $8.99, where it’s marked as an Editor’s Pick for best books for kids up to age 2.
Courtesy of Family
The cover of Tamara Girardi’s new children’s book, “Why, Daddy? Why?” The board book, published by Familius, is illustrated by Nichola Cowdery.
But kindergarten students at Mary Queen of Apostles and New Kensington-Arnold’s Martin Elementary School won’t need to go looking. Girardi raised $2,000 in donations from local businesses to buy copies for them at a discounted rate from Mystery Lovers.
Students at Mary Queen of Apostles got their books Tuesday; those at Martin Elementary are due to receive them May 24.
“We’re grateful for it, of course. Kids love books, especially when they’re the younger age,” Mary Queen of Apostles Principal Cathy Collett said. “They like to have their own copies and take them home with them. This was special.”
As she’s gotten older, Gabriella has stopped asking so many questions. But her younger brother, Domenick, Girardi’s fourth child, is 3 and just getting started.
“It’s fun to just in a way poke fun at this aspect of the perpetual questions,” Girardi said. “For parents, we’re incredibly busy and we have so many demands on our time.
“In the story, the daddy bear is so patient with the cub and all of the questions. The responses to the questions are always centered around love, family and time.
“The story reminds us it’s OK to slow down and enjoy the family time a bit more. These phases, they don’t last. They all pass.”
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .