‘Tripod Kitty:’ Bismarck native publishes book inspired by longtime BHS teacher

Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 3:51 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Think back to the teachers you had growing up.

Is there one that stands out from the rest, one who helped you find your passion?

For Clarice Nassif Ransom, that special teacher was Ardys Swanson. Swanson was a journalism teacher at Bismarck High School from 1956-87.

Ardys Swanson
Ardys Swanson(Mark Munson)

In 1984, Nassif Ransom wrote an essay for Swanson’s class about being inclusive, and how people with disabilities should be treated just like everyone else.

It was a life-changing moment for Nassif Ransom – she realized then she wanted to be a writer.

Now, she’s published her first book.

“Tripod Kitty” was inspired by that essay she wrote nearly 40 years ago and by her cat, Oreo.

This is the story of Orie the Tripod Kitty.

Orie is based on Clarice Nassif Ransom’s real-life cat, Oreo. Oreo lost his right front arm to cancer. That hasn’t slowed down life for this tripod kitty.

“He’s disabled, but he can get along just as well as anybody else,” she explained. “That brought me back when I was in high school at Bismarck High School. I had this fantastic journalism teacher.”

That teacher was Ardys Swanson.

“She was the inspiration that that came back to me while I was thinking about this,” said Nassif Ransom.

In 1984, she assigned her students to write an essay for the Ability Counts contest. Nassif Ransom was the state winner.

“That class changed my life,” she said.

That class, and her cat Oreo, inspired her first-ever children’s book, “Tripod Kitty.” Nassif Ransom sold nearly 100 copies of the book at a weekend book signing in Bismarck.

“It’s better than I anticipated,” she said. “There are three basic things that this book is about: it teaches kids in a fun and gentle way to live in harmony with each other, treat others the way you would want them to treat you and accept and appreciate the differences.”

And a special treat at the end of the book: a chocolate chip cookie recipe.

“It’s a true recipe for kindness,” said Nassif Ransom.

A recipe that she hopes might just make the world better place.

“Tripod Kitty” won’t be officially released until Oct. 5. You can preorder it online at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or Mascot Books.

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