Carbondale children’s book author shares deeper message about family stability
Imagine you are a cat. You’ve lived in four different states and as many different homes. Now, imagine doing this as a young child and how confusing it could be.
Local author Kathy Barger is hoping to send a message of hope to those kids who maybe haven’t had the most stable upbringing.
“It’s the most incredible true story,” said Barger, who will launch her book Saturday at the Dressed for the K9’s event in Carbondale. Proceeds from the memoir will go to CARE (Colorado Animal Rescue) and Colorado Mountain College’s No Barriers Program.
“How Guinness Found His Family” is a memoir told from the eyes of a cat named Guinness. His life started in Minneapolis as a small kitty lost in a big city. Before long, he was adopted by Barger’s son and daughter-in-law.
Years passed and the family grew to include a dog and three little boys. Unfortunately, the stress of daily life caused the family to split up. Guinness stayed with the mom and three boys but did not understand why his dad had left. This was the beginning of Guinness’ journey.
After the divorce, Guinness and his family moved to Indiana. After a run-in with WD-40, which was placed on Guinness by the young boys, he went to live in Colorado with Kathy’s son. Years later, Guinness found himself transferring from home to home before ending up at Colorado Animal Rescue at the age of 15.
Barger, who shared a winter vacation home in Carbondale with her husband, was reading through the Post Independent one morning and noticed an ad for Guinness who was available for adoption at CARE.
“I said, ‘Carter, we’ve got to get Guinness Barger back,’” she explained.
Soon, they were in a small room testing out whether Guinness would get along with the family dog. Little did the staff at CARE know, but Guinness and this pooch already knew each other since, after all, they had lived together briefly many years ago while the young Barger family was undergoing changes.
“Then we told them (CARE) how this was really a Barger cat and about his adventure,” Barger said. “And they were in tears.”
The idea of writing about Guinness came to Barger three years ago. “I really just wanted to write a story about this little cat,” she mentioned. “This cat survived a lot of different changes in his life.”
The memoir, a sophisticated book written with the intent of relaying a deeper message of hope, can be read to 5-year-olds or by older children.
“It’s kind of two plots, the first being a family in crisis,” Barger said. “The other piece is the beauty of adopting a shelter animal.
“In this world, with where we are with those kids down in Texas, we just need some happy, loving, secure stories for kids,” Barger said, referencing the recent family separations at the border by federal immigration officials.
Barger’s next goal after the book launch will be to have it translated into Spanish.
Although Barger initially came up with the book idea three years ago, she waited until she was a permanent resident in Carbondale to finish and publish it with other members of the community.
The illustrations in the book were made entirely by then-12-year-old Jade Meyer, who is now an eighth grader at the Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork in Carbondale. The layout of the book was created by Lindsay Jones, also a Roaring Fork Valley resident.
“I tried to bring in the community,” Barger said. “Everyone was on the same page and excited to work together.”
The official launch of the book will be Saturday night at the Dressed to the K9s event at the Carbondale Recreation Center. The book will also be for sale at various shops throughout the Valley. For more information, visit guinnessthekitty.com.
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The awareness campaign aims to shine a light on the fact that hunger is a year-round struggle for more than 2,700 families that are served each month by LIFT-UP food pantries.