At 83, B.G. woman publishes first book
Lois Sonnenberg appears to be a flawless paradigm of the adage “It’s never too late.”
The Bowling Green resident, who celebrates her 84th birthday Wednesday, also is celebrating the publication of her first book late last year — a move that already prompted her to start writing a second one.
She worked in her home as a team with her 87-year-old husband, Otis, and Joshua Ebert, a visual communication technology graduate from Bowling Green State University, to put together Grave Tales: A Mother Goose Spoof, a publication in the making for decades — in her head, through life experiences, and on paper.
The book — a satirical spin on age-old nursery rhymes — is not for children, Mrs. Sonnenberg stressed. It was officially launched Dec. 3. A second book signing is scheduled at a Local Writers’ Fair from 1-4 p.m. April 14 at the Wood County District Public Library in Bowling Green.
Publishing a book at her age is a feat that doesn’t shock many who know her, especially her children.
“Mom has wanted to publish some of her creative writing for many years and I’m not at all surprised that she pulled it off in her 80s. She’s a woman with a lot of energy and talent who sets goals and accomplishes them,” said her daughter, Meg Gaige, 55, a photographer and agricultural writer for Farm Journal’s Dairy Today in New York.
“It’s especially apropos that mom and dad pulled off this self-publishing feat as a team — they’ve been cheering each other on for more than 64 years.”
In the book, familiar nursery rhyme characters travel to the 21st century, only to find their situations stunningly different than they were in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Jack Spratt and his wife become “Fats & Lena Spratt,” a couple not so in tune with today’s world of high cholesterol and trans-fats; Little Miss Muffet, a child genius of sorts who, despite her intelligence, fails to read up on the perils of poisonous spiders.
Mrs. Sonnenberg’s road to authorship is as interesting as it is intricate. Her life experiences, stories from her childhood, and meetings with others prompted the subject of her second book currently in the works, memoirs of her life as a child of the Depression and World War II.
Born in 1928, Mrs. Sonnenberg grew up Lois Benzino in a small New York town near Buffalo. Her two brothers were off fighting in the war and her family ran a modest produce business. She had no real hopes of furthering her education until her best friend in high school suggested they try attending school through the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps program.
In her third year of nursing at the University of Michigan, Benzino met Otis Sonnenberg of Holgate, who was in the Navy. They married in 1948 and moved to northwest Ohio so that he could work on the family dairy farm.