by Kathryn Cloward
I am one of those girls.
Kathryn the Grape is a tribute to Mr. P—to a man with magical influence and everlasting reach. These books pay homage to him, to a remarkable softball coach, who granted me the nickname that has colored my life ever since.
Whether I was 13, 23, or 30, Mr. P, would affectionately call out “Kathryn the Grape!” whenever I neared. Always cloaked in the color purple as a kid, I understand that Mr. P might have found my “grapeness” an easy way to differentiate me from the many girls each season. But whatever the tactic, the name stuck, and I felt special because of it! A vibrant, loving man, Mr. P may have never known how much this namesake gave me confidence and made me feel a part of something bigger than myself…a team, a family, a legacy of volunteerism.
Today, I honor Mr. P. as I have channeled his footprint through the central character in my "Kathryn the Grape" children’s book series. Illustrator Christine Winscott, was able to capture the original Navajo Bobby Sox uniforms perfectly, and she integrated the Blue Angel planes on a few pages memorializing Mr. P’s flight tour with the prestigious demonstration team.
Mr. P passed away in January 2007. While he is not physically here to see the incarnation of his footprint, I am confident he flutters close by me everyday with positive and affirming encouragement just like he did when I was a young girl. I have reconnected with his lovely bride of 47 years, Marcia, who has been an added source of knowledge, inspiration, and encouragement. It is my hope that Kathryn the Grape will inspire others, while leaving a magical and intangible footprint on the lives of children around the world, much like the footprint Mr. P left on my life.