Our sweet Sophie Grace is 9 months old, 18 pounds and been part of our family for 7 months. She is a complete joy. Her tail wags constantly when she's awake, beginning with her first greeting of the morning when she runs and gets a toy to share with us. She keeps me company while I write, watching over my shelves of books and inspiring me (also making sure I get out for walks!). We can't imagine our lives without her. Sophie loved hosting our grand-dog, Emmie, while her mom and dad finally got to go on their honeymoon.
Look at that winning smile on this beautiful little girl, Reina. Reina and I have never met but her mother reached out to me on Facebook to share that her daughter, now 5 and who has had some challenges with learning delay, recently read her very first book and is now reading at first grade level. The book? What About Heaven? one of my early books that recently went out of print. I'm so humbled and honored that the first book she read was one that I wrote. Reina's Grandma found a used copy at a Goodwill shop and bought it for her granddaughter. It's wonderful how God's word finds its way into the hands of children in so many ways. I had been feeling a bit down at the declining number of children's books I've published in the last few years along with the number of books that have gone out of print, but this unexpected gift lifted my spirits. It filled my heart with joy to know that books first published over 20 years ago and now no longer available are finding their way into the hands of children who love them. if you are interested in getting What About Heaven? for a little one in your life I do have a few copies available as part of Easter Stories and Prayers (four books in one).
And now for more good news. . .
COVER REVEAL for my next book, available in May 2023: Since the Baby Came, published by Waterbrook & Multnomah, a division of Penguin Random House Books. More info to come in my next newsletter! You can pre-order now on Amazon.
CURRENT ONLINE BOOK SALE EXTENDED UNTIL NOVEMBER 25
20% Off All Signed Editions - Just In Time For Christmas!
On October 16, 1993, I stood before my home church congregation, First Presbyterian Church of San Pedro, and took my vows of ordination to the ministry of Word and Sacrament. It was one of the holiest moments of my life and I will never forget all the people who came for the service on a weeknight. I was such an unlikely candidate for ministry. I did not grow up in church. I was (and am) an extreme introvert, terrified of speaking before a group of people. Ministry was such an unlikely calling that I knew it came from God as it was not a vocation I would have chosen for myself. I have done my best to be faithful to that calling. I love(d) being a pastor of several incredible churches. I am blessed by sharing ministry with my husband, Greg, who continues to serve a congregation. I now work full-time as a writer, and that is my extended calling, but I will always have the heart of a pastor. My congregation is now my readers, but also the people I've served and loved throughout my 39 years of ordination. I often think of Elizabeth's proclamation to Mary: "You are, among women, most richly blessed" (Luke 1:42). I feel, among women, most richly blessed.
On the back of this photo I wrote: Present and future clergy! Randy Branson, in the robe and stole, is the pastor who suggested I go to Princeton Theological seminary to study Christian Education. Randy's belief in me changed my life. Carl Jacobson, new pastor to youth, in the tie. He was also very supportive of me during my seminary years, as were so many in my home church. I was the first person in their 150+ year history to attend seminary and become ordained. I still keep in touch Randy, and also with one of my high-school youth advisors, now nearly 93 years old.
One of my first sermons as a seminary student, preached at First Presbyterian Church, San Pedro, CA.
In my next Kathy's Musings, coming in mid-November, I'll share good news about two upcoming new books, plus an update on Sophie Grace who will then be 9 months old.
The Newbery Medal is 100 years old this year!
Have you ever picked up a book at the library or bookstore and noticed that mysterious gold label on the front cover? Maybe you already know that that particular book has been awarded the Newbery Medal, an annual award given to the best middle-grade book of the previous year. But what kind of books are eligible? How is a book chosen? Who are the past winners? And how many Newbery winning books have you read?
The 2022 Newbery Medal was awarded to Donna Barba Higuera for her book, The Last Cuentista. What led her to write this book? Read her acceptance speech and discover the answer.
Listen to (or read) my interview about the Newbery Medal with podcaster Terrie Hellard-Brown and check out her other podcasts while you're at it.
Did you know that I wrote about about the first 75 years of the Newbery award, with profiles on all the authors up until then? The book, Winning Authors: Profiles of the Newbery Medalists isn't easily available anymore, but if you're interested, you can find it on my website under "Books for Adults." Leave a comment and let me know which authors are your favorites!
Be sure to spell "Newbery" with one "r!"
Here's an interesting Newbery Nugget:
"I truly believe that reading can help dreams come true. Whatever you want to become in your life, whatever you want to do, reading can help you get there!"
- Linda Sue Park, 2002 Newbery Medalist for A Single Shard
A WOOF FROM SOPHIE GRACE
Hi, everyone! Sophie here. I'm 5 months old now and growing fast!
When I came home the end of March, I weighed 6.5 pounds and now I'm 13.5 pounds. Mom can still carry me around sometimes, but only when I hold still which I don't always do. Guess what? I got bitten by a baby rattlesnake, but Mom and Dad took me to the animal hospital. I had to stay overnight. I did not like being bit one bit! I was so glad to come home! I love all my family and they love me. Aren't we lucky?
I've been writing for a number of Presbyterian publications during the last few months...
"How Do You Pray With Others in Their Time of Need" Presbyterian Outlook
The topic for the article was spurred by a reader seeking guidance for Elders and Deacons when called upon to pray for people in times of crisis.
One of my very first publications when I was first seeking to become a published author was an article in the magazine for women, Horizons. I later had the honor to write the 2005 Women's Bible Study on the church seasons. My recent article, "In Praise of Sloth," appeared in the November/December issue. I wrote about learning to let myself take time to heal after my knee replacement, and to accept the help offered to me rather than feeling guilty.
I wrote two weeks of devotions for These Days, a daily devotional. I've written for this publication several times through the years, and it always helps me sink deeper into Scripture. My devotions will be published in December 2022.
In Other News:
I was interviewed by podcaster Terrie Hellard-Brown who writes about and interviews authors of children's books. I hope you'll take a moment to check it out: Books That Spark Podcast 103: Helping Our Children Navigate Their Faith with Kathleen Long Bostrom
My picture book (first published in 2006), Why is There a Cross? was listed as 53 out of 100 in a listing on Christian Book Expo's Christian Juvenile Bestsellers for Easter 2022.
I had a picture book accepted for publication, not sure when yet but I'll write more about it once it's in the works. My picture book, Since the Baby Came was highlighted in Publishers Weekly, which was a great thrill: I'm loving working with Sarah Rubio at WaterbrookMultnomah.
I am learning once again how grief and grace dance hand in hand.
In the midst of grieving the loss of our beloved Ellie (see March 18 post) I began looking online for another rescue dog. Ellie was a rescue, and once we adopted her we vowed to always adopt a rescue dog. It's shocking how many are available, once one starts to look.
And I spent a lot of time looking. In those weeks when I could hardly focus, and tears sprang readily and freely, I began to browse animal rescue sites. It felt almost disloyal to Ellie, even though I told myself it was anything but. Greg and I often have told a widowed person who remarries not to feel guilty. Wanting what one has had is an expression of the love shared and missed. We honor life by claiming it. Ellie is lodged deeply in our hearts and nothing will erase that. Loving a new dog, we're discovering, only makes more room in our hearts for expanding that love by welcoming another precious into our lives.
Welcome to our world, Sophie Grace!
Sophie is a mixed breed whose mother was rescued from the streets hours before giving birth to nine healthy puppies. The question, "Should we get a puppy or perhaps a dog a year or so old?" was promptly answer when we held this 5 pound baby in our arms for the first time.
Sophie is almost 10 weeks old, and even though she came home less than two weeks ago, she has quickly etched herself on our hearts. Love and joy and laughter abound in our home again.
Easter will be here in 10 short days. There is much packed into the church timeline between now and then: Palm Sunday, Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and then, resurrection! Joy! The promise of renewal, new life, and life everlasting.
I'm feeling that promise and joy even now as I walk through the rest of Lent.
In life and in death and every moment in between, grace happens.
And I thank God with my whole heart.
I've had every intention of writing a blog a week since the Newbery Medal was announced in January. I planned to share stories of the Newbery medalists, their books, and my interactions with them. And then my life changed. My beloved rescue dog of nearly fifteen years, Ellie, died January 30. She'd been declining in health due to her heart condition but until the last days was a happy, engaged and loving girl.
During her rapid decline, I focused my attention almost completely on loving her through her dying and death. I don't regret that, not for a minute. I got way behind on many obligations, including this blog, but I was immersed in caring for my sweet dog who had been my faithful companion for so many years.
I've allowed myself to grieve; to cry when the moment strikes, to look at her photos, to share Ellie stories with my family and friends who also loved her. Grieving is hard, exhausting, and necessary work, and as a pastor who has also endured tragedy and trauma, I recognize that every person grieves in their own way, and that's okay.
I'm looking for a new dog to rescue but taking my time. Ellie will be hard to follow, and I want to be sure to love and cherish a dog for that dog and not as a substitute, which no dog can ever be.
I'll keep you posted and will soon post about Easter books for children. In my own recent time with death and grief, I can't wait for Easter. But walking this long, shadowed journey of Lent, it is exactly what I need right now. Resurrection only happens after death, and we all walk the valley of shadows. Let us be kind and gentle with others and ourselves and hold fast to our faith in Life beyond life.
Newbery Medal Winner for 2022: The Last Cuentista, by Donna Barbara Higuera. Read more about the book and the author at Levine Querido.
Do you know the meaning of "Cuentista" without looking it up?
(Photo: My collection of all the Newbery Medal books,
now a new one to read and add to my collection.)
Since "cuento" means storyteller in Spanish, I am guessing that "cuentista" means storyteller - and I hope there never is a last one!
What happens on January 24, 2022? The 100th Newbery Medal winner will be announced! In case you’re not familiar with the Newbery Medal, that’s about to change.
This is how it all began.
On a bright, spring day in 1744, a revolution began. No gunshots were fired, no battle lines drawn, and no lives lost. Best of all, there were no losers in this revolution, only winners.
Triggered by a much-admired London bookseller named John Newbery (make note, that’s spelled with one “r”), the revolution began quietly and with little fanfare. The only inkling that a history-making event was about to occur came in the form of an announcement that appeared on the back page of a London newspaper dated June 18, 1744:
This Day is publish’d According to
Act of Parliament (Neatly bound and gilt)
A Little Pretty Pocket-Book,
intended for the Instruction and Amusement of
little Master Tommy and Miss Polly . . .
Printed for J. Newbery, at the Bible and Crown,
Near Devereux Court.
In that time, people believed that the sole purpose of books was to teach strict moral and religious values, and anything that might be considered “amusing” or “entertaining” wasn’t welcomed, nor even in the picture at all. John Newbery changed all that.
Many felt that Newbery’s books weren’t proper, but a larger number of children and adults bought his books as if they were buried treasure. The world of children’s books would never be the same.
Newbery died in 1767, but in the early 1920’s a Midwestern bookseller and editor, Frederic G. Melcher, decided that publishers and booksellers needed to do a better job of promoting books for children. In 1921, Melcher made a proposal to the American Library Association that a special medal be given each year to honor the author of the most distinguished book for children. Melcher recognized the impact that John Newbery had had on children’s book publishing, so he suggested that the award be named for Mr. Newbery. An American sculptor named René Chambellan designed the medal.
The first Newbery Medal was awarded in 1922 to Hendrik Willem van Loon. This year, the Newbery Medal turns 100 years old. I’ll be sharing stories over the next months of my interviews and friendships with eighteen of the authors. I’ll keep you apprised of events planned to celebrate the anniversary. I’ll have fun games and quizzes and links to share.
I invite you to join me on this journey, 100 years in the making!
Fasten your seat belts, because here we go!