We interviewed Loni Niles, K‑12 media specialist in the Wadena-Deer Creek public schools in west central Minnesota. She shared her thoughts about books and life.
What is your favorite late-night snack?
I love popcorn and can eat it any time during the day, even for breakfast!
Favorite city to visit?
Chicago. Even though we moved from there when I was just a baby, I still take some pride that I was born there! Now I love to visit there because my stepdaughter and her husband are such wonderful hosts—they show us all kinds of wonderful things the city has to offer. Oh yeah, and there’s that grandson there, too! He definitely is a draw for me to visit this wonderful city!
My husband and I do not really agree on when our first date was. Fortunately, we agree on some of the more important things in life!
Which book do you find yourself recommending passionately?
I find myself passionately recommending the novels The Lottery Rose by Irene Hunt and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. Miss Steimle, my fifth grade teacher, read both of these out loud to my class in the 1970s, but today’s kids love them, too!
Illustrator's work you most admire?
Mike Wohnoutka. My favorite book of his work is written by one of my favorite authors, David LaRochelle. It’s a finalist for the Minnesota Book Awards this year and called This is NOT a Cat! Check it out!
Tea? Coffee? Milk? Soda? What’s your favorite go-to drink?
Gotta have my coffee in the morning!
Favorite season of the year?
Although I love them all, it's winter! Minnesota is the perfect place for me! We typically get a real winter here and we definitely get four seasons! At age 48, I started to downhill ski. But I love to watch high school hockey, go snowmobilng and sledding, and when my sons were younger we used to love playing in the snow!
Favorite candy as a kid?
Anyone remember the Marathon candy bar?! A yummy caramel braid covered in chocolate.
Brothers and sisters or an only child? How did that shape your life?
I’m in the middle of two brothers. I always told my two sons that I’m the best mom for them because I know what it’s like to have that big brother pounding on you and that little brother picking at you! I used to lament not having sisters, but I have been surrounded by wonderful women (and girls, too—I have three granddaughters) in my life—so it’s not so much an issue anymore.
Best tip for living a contented life?
I do live a very contented life, but I don’t really have a tip on how to do it. Seeing the good in things and people comes pretty naturally to me. I try to remember my mom’s advice to always assume the best. This is the same woman who once told me as a teenager complaining about my acne that I should just be happy I have a face. That still makes me chuckle!
Hope for the world?
My hope for the world is that we begin to recognize each others’ talents (and our own!) and appreciate each other—even our differences.
You are also an excellent host for visiting authors, Loni! Thank you for treating me so well when I was at your school this year. You’re right about Mike Wohnoutka being a pretty wonderful illustrator! And I, too, loved Marathon candy bars: “You can’t eat a Marathon quick…Carl.”
Aw, shucks, thanks, David! I wish you could have been at our school the day AFTER your visit when so many of the students were still talking about your visit and staff were stopping me in the hall to tell me how good the presentations were! We have begun to raffle off your drawings!