Reviewer: Jackie Snider
This past week, I had the immense pleasure of getting to introduce my daughter to Kathryn The Grape. Kathryn the Grape is a series of books with an overall message of love, compassion, and self-esteem. There are currently three books in all, written by Kathryn Cloward, and each one brings a new uplifting and encouraging story. There is also a musical CD based on the stories called Believe.
The first story in the series, co-authored by Jody Duhamel is called Kathryn the Grape: Just Like Magic. It is an adorable introduction to the characters and what they stand for.
In the story, Kathryn, a spunky young girl, learns a lot about herself. She has a best friend named Maggie, a magical butterfly. Maggie is kind of like Kathryn the Grape’s voice of reason. Kathryn has a magical wand that gets her through some tough times. Maggie reminds Kathryn that her magic can only be used for good, not to rid the world of skunks, or extracting revenge on her brothers.
Kathryn’s magic helps her muster up the courage to overcome various fears, as well as tells her when someone else needs a dose of her magic to overcome their own obstacles.
When I first started reading I was concerned about where it was going. I was afraid my daughter would think she couldn’t do all this because she didn’t have a magical butterfly best friend to give her a wand. How would she fight off the monsters under the bed and the bullies at school?
Thankfully Kathryn the Great realizes, with the help of her loving mother, that the magic resides in her, not her wand. My daughter, who is four, was quite skeptical of this notion but promised to try!
What I really loved about this book is the audience participation. There were many instances where Kathryn engages the reader. In the beginning she talks about people who don’t believe in magic and claims they can’t see her wand. She proceeds to ask, “Can YOU see my wand?” My daughter jumped out of her seat with excitement that she COULD see the wand.
Another fun interaction was when Kathryn explains how she got her nickname, Kathryn the Grape. Her softball coach gave it to her because she always wears purple. The book then asks, “Do you have a special nickname?” Hailey, my daughter, promptly answered, telling Kathryn of her nicknames (Wiggles, Peanut, Midget, and Hailey Beans.)
The book is much longer than the average book for this age range. Though quite surprisingly, it really kept Hailey’s interest for the most part! There was one point, about two-thirds of the way through, she stopped me and said we could finish the rest tomorrow. We encouraged her to see it through until the end, and she did. It has quickly become one of her favorite books!
The illustrations, done by Christine Winscott, are absolutely phenomenal! It is fun, eye-popping, color busting artistry. The book won a silver Mom’s Choice Award. Kathryn the Grape: Just Like Magic, a hardback treasure, has definitely earned a permanent spot on my daughter’s bookshelf!
Book two in the series, Kathryn the Grape: Colorful Adventure does not disappoint either. It is co-authored by Ginny Hornby and illustrated again by Christine Winscott.
In this installment, she reintroduces herself, and her best friend the magical butterly, Maggie. The storyline opens with Kathryn the Grape acting out at the dinner table because she didn’t get her way. She gets sent to her room and is convinced that she is invisible.
Maggie insists that she is the complete opposite of invisible; she is colorful! She gifts Kathryn a bracelet with seven different charms. As the story progresses, Kathryn learns the try meaning of each one individually and gains the understanding of the corresponding feelings. The highlighted teachings are belonging, excitement, trust, love, saying what you feel, seeing with your mind as well as your eyes, and lastly, learning.
This book did not include any reader interaction question like Just Like Magic did, and that was a little disappointing. It did however have a few other attributes that still engaged my four-year-old daughter. Each time before Kathryn the Grape understood the meaning of another charm the book would read ‘BLING!’ After a few times, Hailey really enjoyed yelling it and began to recognize it when she saw it.
Another great thing we noticed in this book is the way they wrote different words, repetitively. The color ‘colorful’ was actually colorful; each letter was a different color. The words ‘Kathryn the Grape was written in purple. All the words that went with the charms were written in the colors that represented them. This style of writing helped my daughter, who is in the early stages of learning to read, recognize the words as we came upon them.
I think this was a really wonderful book and great for children of all ages. Kathryn the Grape is a very influential character and I’m happy for my daughter to learn from the messages in the books. My only complaint is that I wish there was a little more focus on why acting like a brat when you don’t get your way is unacceptable, not just consoling her into not thinking she’s not invisible. This book also won a silver Mom’s Choice Award.
The third book in the series is called Kathryn the Grape: Piece of Love. Solely Kathryn Cloward wrote this one alone. This book opens, once again, with Kathryn introducing herself and her magical butterfly best friend, Maggie. She also reiterated that she, and everyone, is both magical and colorful.
The storyline picks up inside Kathryn’s classroom where her teacher, Mrs. Vega, explains their next school assignment. She gives them all a puzzle piece and tells them to write down a way in which they are helpful to the planet and others. Right away Kathryn realizes that she is drawing a blank! Soon she begins to fill her head with worry. Maggie quickly comes in as the ever-present voice of reason. She reminds Kathryn the Grape that negative thoughts block the natural flow of creative energy. She compares this process to swimming in a river blocked by a beaver dam.
I really liked that detailed visual and it helped my daughter understand what they were saying. After she clears her mind, Kathryn the Grape is able to see that her contribution to the planet and others is her ability to have positive thoughts. She explained that the way you act, and think creates a ripple effect of other people’s attitudes.
“When I think positive thoughts, say nice words, and do kind things, I am rippling loving kindness into the world.”
This was my favorite Kathryn the Grape book of them all. It conveys a wonderful message and does so without the character acting out in any way.
Once again this book had magnificent illustrations and had key words in different colors to make them easily recognizable by a child reader.
As an added perk, a portion of the proceeds for this book is donated to Kids for Peace.
Finally, I would like to tell you about an amazing musical companion to the Kathryn the Grape series, called Believe.
There is seven extremely uplifting pop-style hits that correspond with various topics in the book. Some of the songs are just descriptive anthems to the characters, while others teach a lesson.
There is one called Nervous Bubbles that talks about how to get over anxiety filled situations and be brave. There is another called Into the Flow that is very melodic and I, as an adult, thoroughly enjoy it.
After just one listening of the CD straight through my daughter had the entire thing memorized word for word. She said she cant pick a favorite however, as she loves them all equally! It has not left her personal CD player all week.
The CD can be purchased for $15 a piece. Each of the books cost $16.99 each. Alternatively you can purchase the full set for $59.37, saving roughly $6.
I highly recommend this series for the children in your life. I think my daughter has learned a lot from the book and will continue to gain more from it as she gets older and understand more of the messages.
You are MAGICAL. You are Colorful. You are LOVE.
--Kathryn the Grape