Interview with Author Gina DeGregorio-Sonbert

Gina DeGregorio-Sonbert

I am thrilled to have interviewed author Gina DeGregorio-Sonbert, who shared with us details of her writing life, her book ‘Theodore Bearkins Lost His Blue Sunglasses‘, which was released on 16th September 2023, and answered a few fun questions. This post contains affiliate links.


Gina DeGregorio-Sonbert is a NYC music industry publicist and event marketer, who’s worked with everyone from Carly Simon to Coldplay, turned autism advocate, non-profit founder, and children’s book author. She holds an MS in Counseling and Clinical Health Psychology from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, and is certified in Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Applied Behavior Analysis.

She is the founder of the autism nonprofit, Families For Inclusion, of which a portion of the proceeds of book sales are donated. She currently resides on Long Island with her husband Michael and their three children, Maxwell, Teddy, and Penny.

interview picture 2023


1) Where did the inspiration for your book come from?

My 8-year-old son, Teddy, is the inspiration for this book, the main character, and the entire book series. When Teddy was diagnosed with autism at age two, I knew only one mom who had an autistic child. So I spoke with her for hours as she explained to me the things to expect, types of therapy, paperwork, government programs, etc. The one thing she said to me that I will always remember is, “My son will be ok, it’s the rest of the world that I’m worried about.” And that really stuck with me. So it’s become my mission to make sure everyone in Teddy’s orbit understands him and autism, so that people will see him and love him for the amazing boy he is. One way to do that is through this book.

2) How did you plan out the plot?

I planned out the plot mostly in my head, talking it through out loud to my husband.

3) When did you choose the title for your book?

I chose the title at the very beginning and it is what drove the story.

4) How did you come up with the names for your characters?

Theodore Bearkins is named after my son Teddy, whose real name is Theodore. And there’s a cute story around the character Crocodile Duckhands. Teddy loves the show Bubble Guppies. When he loves a show, he will watch it on his tablet and then find scenes that he thinks are funny and rewind them to watch the same scene over and over again. Though Teddy is non-speaking, he will sometimes repeat or script lines from shows he enjoys. So, there was a period of a few weeks when he would run around the house repeating what we thought was, “Crocodile Duckhands! Crocodile Duckhands!” But, after sitting and watching the Bubble Guppies show about Egypt alongside him one day, we saw a scene where the guppies are running away from a crocodile yelling, “Crocodile, don’t eat us!” And we realized that, in fact, that’s was what he’d been saying! He was so incredibly excited when we realized it and was so happy that we were now saying it correctly!

5) How did you go about researching the content for your book?

My son is my research. I am also constantly researching, reading, and learning all about autism and neurodiversity as his mom, so that knowledge is conveyed in the pages.

6) What made you choose this genre?

I chose the genre of children’s books because it is my mission to teach kids about autism and neurodiversity.

7) How long did it take you to complete your book?

It took about five months from writing the first page to the book’s release.

8) Can you describe your book in three words?

Cute, educational, inclusive

9) What’s the hardest part of being a writer?

I think for most writers, it’s probably finding the time to write during our busy lives!

10) Why should our readers pick your book up?

Theodore Bearkins is the first-ever autistic, non-speaking main character in a children’s picture book series where autism is NOT the focus of his tale. He is a sweet, silly bear who doesn’t speak much, but expresses his thoughts in lots of other ways. ALL kids find Theodore fun and engaging, whether they realize he has autism or not. These books are geared toward and marketed to everyone, not just those touched by autism. Rather than depicting autism as a “superpower,” Theodore normalizes ASD for children. He is a whole bear, with lots of different interests and adventures. Neurodivergent and neurotypical kids alike relate to his stories, feelings, and experiences, setting the example that we are all different, yet all the same.

The aim of the Theodore Bearkins series is to naturally introduce children to autism and inclusion in a subtle and non-obvious way. This allows them to experience a fun, silly story that they will remember, with values that they will organically absorb. Rather than promote inclusion head-on in an obvious fashion, these books create a natural discussion about differences and inclusivity, but it’s not necessary to bring those topics to the reader’s attention unless the adult chooses to do so. If not, the child will internalize the message just by reading the pages.

Theodore Bearkins Lost His Blue Sunglasses by Gina Degregorio Sonbert

Theodore Bearkins Lost His Blue Sunglasses

Author – Gina DeGregorio-Sonbert
Illustrator – Claudie C. Bergeron
Publisher – Benjamin McRae Publishing Group
Pages – 36
Release Date – 16th September 2023
ISBN 13 – 979-8988312918
Format – Paperback, hardcover


It is a BLUE beach mystery! When Theodore and his best friend Crocodile Duckhands go surfing, a HUGE wave torpedoes Theodore’s blue sunglasses off his face! As the pair comb the beach to find them, they discover mysterious obstacles along the way and realize they need YOU to be a great friend and use your voice to help them.

Reminiscent of fan favorites The Monster At The End of This Book, and The Book With No Pictures, Theodore Bearkins brings the reader physically into the story, asking them to dig into the sand and to yell silly things out loud in order to help the characters find Theodore’s sunglasses. It is the first installment in a full collection of Theodore Bearkins’ fun and colorful adventures.

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Fun Questions

Talking Owl Interview Pic 2023

1) Do you have a writing buddy?

I do keep a plushie of Theodore Bearkins on my desk as I’m writing.

2) Do you have any writing quirks?

None that I can think of, except for maybe that I like to keep my desk and writing area neat and organized while I’m writing.

3) Where do you write?

Depending on what time of day I’m writing, I will usually write in my home office, but also sometimes in my dining room, living room, or bedroom.

4) Your book has been made into a movie, you’ve been offered a cameo role, what will you be doing?

When my book becomes a cartoon, I’d love to voice Candy Crab or Sally Starfish!

5) A talking owl has just finished reading your book, what’s the first thing he says to you?

“I’ve read your book, I think it’s great! Sign it please, then let’s celebrate!”

Author links


A big thank you to Gina DeGregorio-Sonbert for sharing her writing life with us and for a wonderful interview.

The above links are affiliate links. I receive a very small percentage from each item you purchase via these link, which is at no extra cost to you. If you are thinking about purchasing the book, please think about using one of the links above. Thank you.

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