Editor’s note: I’m pleased to share the following guest contribution from Julie Kelly, the author of the wonderful book Clare’s Costly Cookie: A Young Heart Discovers the Way of Love. LMH
There is a vibrant new thread in the beautiful tapestry of Catholic children’s literature, and with God’s grace it will be a humble instrument to joyfully draw many young hearts to Jesus. Hello, and peace to you in our Risen Lord! My name is Julie Kelly and I am a Catholic wife and home educating mother of six children ages 1–16 in Arkansas. I have written and self-published a book – something I never planned to do.
Approximately four years ago I began to write a handful of entertaining, engaging stories to help my strong-willed daughter better understand some truths of our faith, with a young girl like herself as the main character. I wanted my daughter to effortlessly, and with a large dose of joyful light-heartedness, experience this little girl’s transformation from a self-absorbed child to a faithful follower of Jesus. And I wanted this little girl to be REAL. With faults. And failings. And with a strong will that proved difficult to subdue. And I wanted her to meet Jesus – to get to know Him personally – and to offer Him her heart – at ANY cost.
So I prayed. And I wrote. And I prayed some more. And the stories came. I shared them with my children and they asked me to read them again. And to write more. And I did. At some point in the course of writing, the idea occurred to me that these stories of struggle, perseverance and surrender could possibly help other young hearts discover the transforming power of Christ’s love and the joy of living the holy Catholic faith.
This is how Clare’s Costly Cookie: A Young Heart Discovers the Way of Love, found its way into the beautiful tapestry of Catholic children’s literature. Nine-year old Clare, a thunderbolt in pigtails and the title character, models for young readers that following Jesus and striving for true holiness are worth any cost. With pluck, giggles and grit she invites young readers to experience her transformation in Christ as she offers to Him the most meaningful gift she possibly can: her self-will. With simple honesty she declares, “So I will continue to pray every day, Jesus, for the strength and grace to do Your will, but it will not be easy. I guess I’ll try it one day at a time…no, maybe half a day…well, maybe one hour at a time…it will be a lot easier when I’m sleeping.” Some of the topics explored in the book are obedience from the heart, sibling relationships, selfishness, surrendering the self-will, the rosary, Holy Communion, the Mass, adoration, the desire for holiness, and others.
Because there is a little bit of Clare in all of us, the book is speaking in a surprisingly powerful way to the hearts of adults as well. Ann Applegarth, poet, writer and former book reviewer for the National Catholic Register and Catholic Parent magazine, wrote, “I just finished (at one sitting because I literally couldn’t put it down) Clare’s Costly Cookie: A Young Heart Discovers the Way of Love. I bought it to send to my granddaughters, and so I wanted to read it before sending it. To my astonishment, it also works as a book for Everycatholic! I found myself identifying with the selfish, childish girl in the book and praying some of the prayers that changed her in the hope of changing my heart, too. Quite an accomplishment for a book intended for children and parents of young children! Julie Kelly has written what I think is one of the best books I have ever read for Catholic parents — and their children.”
An eight year old boy shared, “I like all her talks with Jesus and how she struggles and gets help from Him. And she’s funny!” An 11 year old girl shared, “It helped me talk to Jesus, and I am talking to Him more. I think it is a funny and prayerful book at the same time.”
The book, released in February of this year, is delightfully illustrated by Mary MacArthur, a graduate in Art and Theology of the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas, and the Foreword is written by Father Antoine Thomas, csj, founder of Children of Hope. Clare’s Clare’s Costly Cookie: A Young Heart Discovers the Way of Love is 112 pages, softcover, and currently available from:
- Nativity Press
- Sacred Heart Books and Gifts online
- Catholic Heritage Curricula
- Seton Home Study School
Copyright 2013 Julie Kelly