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Award-winning Author of Local History

Ruth by Lake and Prairie was awarded a Certificate of Excellence from the Illinois State Historical Society at a gala banquet at the Executive Mansion in Springfield on Saturday, April 26.

Russell Lewis, Executive Vice President and Chief Historian of the Chicago History Museum and Chair of the Society's Annual Awards Committee, introduced the book as an “account of early Naperville based on real people. Meticulous research by the author denotes the time and place of 19th century Illinois.”

As Gingold accepted the award, Lewis further praised the book, saying "This volume is a wonderful way to present history to young people, and exemplifies the use of creativity and imagination within an accurate framework of history.”

Of the award, Gingold said:  “Being recognized by the State Historical Society is such an honor! I’m so lucky to be able to combine my love for writing with my enthusiasm for history, and then to be named alongside such distinguished historians! It really validates my passion for sharing history with children, and I can’t wait until my next classroom visit!” Gingold gives school talks as well adult group presentations about both Illinois in the 1830’s and the writing process.

The Illinois State Historical Society was established in 1900 by the Illinois General Assembly to interpret, preserve and promote Illinois state history, and the Society honored approximately 30 museums, historical societies, teachers, authors and individuals at the ceremony for their efforts in carrying out that commission. For a complete list of the Society’s endeavors, as well as the 2008 award winners, contact them at 217 525-2781 or visit the Society’s website at



High Praise


Naperville Glancer

In the June 2007 "Relax and Read" section by Donna Chavez. Chavez is a freelance writer and a book reviewer for Publisher's Weekly and the American Library Association's Booklist.  

Told through the eyes of 12-year-old Ruth the story of traversing three of the Great Lakes onboard that ship reveals the perils and 
hardships of a world without seasick pills or superhighways. Yet for all its outward differences from our 21st Century, inwardly people were much the same: seeking better lives for themselves and their families, uncertain how they might fit into the grand scheme of things and wondering whether home is tied to a place or to the people they love. Naperville author Gingold did a super job of researching the Murray/Naper journey and an even better job of painting a picture of their lives and times. Both children and adults ought to enjoy this one. Kudos.

Peg Yonker

Peg Yonker is a local historian, speaker, former president of the Naperville Heritage Society and author of the book "Lone Feather and the Settlers: A History of Naperville, Illinois."

Your book is absolutely charming! It certainly describes our country's harrowing , frontier-developing days - and in such detail! You must have labored long hours of researching.

"Ruth by Lake and Prairie" should delight today's young readers especially, as they realize the sharp contrast to their twenty-first century lives.

A. George Pradel

A. George Pradel was Naperville's beloved Mayor 1995 to 2016 and known as "Naperville's #1 Cheerleader!"

From the shores of Lake Erie to the DuPage River in Naperville, Illinois, the adventures as seen through the eyes of a 12 year old girl are very exciting.The book is well written and easy to read along, and the illustrations are great.

This is a must-read for every student in the Naperville school system and for their families. I highly recommend this book to be placed in every school library.


Mary Ellingson

Mary Ellingson served as a Naperville City Councilman and Naper Settlement board member.

Ruth makes our history come alive because you experience it through the eyes of this young girl.

Mary Lou Wehrli

Mary Lou Wehrli is from a 5th Generation Naperville Family. She is very active in the community and is an author, local historian and filmmaker.

We are lucky such a talented researcher and writer was drawn to this story. Ruth's journey captures the dynamic energies of a homesteading voyage at a time when "... Illinois has wide boundaries and few people."

An observant, heartfelt look at the arrival of the first Naper families to what is now Naperville, Illinois. Ruth By Lake And Prairie is delightfully written and punctuated with edifying illustrations. Through Ruth's eyes we experience a gentle, beautiful look at hope, joy and families growing up together.

It's a great book. Thank you for researching and writing and persevering. Ruth By Lake And Prairie will be a wonderful addition to school and family libraries. There is so much to learn and appreciate in your creation! 

Can't wait for the next book!

Jim Shattuck

Jim Shattuck and numerous other descendants were contacted during research for Ruth by Lake and Prairie.

Thank you for notifying me about the book's release. I just placed an order for a copy of the book. Yes, I'm proud that you chose my Great Grand Mother as some one to base a book on!

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