Local author Kathryn Cloward, whose son attends Grey Rabbit Preschool in La Mesa, has won a silver medal of excellence in the Mom’s Choice Awards—the latest milestone in her mom-run publishing empire.
The honored books—Kathryn the Grape—Just Like Magic and Kathryn the Grape’s Colorful Adventure—feature an “everyday girl” who helps children develop authentic self-love.
Cloward shares the prize with the books’ co-authors, Jody Duhamel and Ginny Hornby, and illustrator Christine Winscott, according to Kandon Unlimited, which is Cloward's company that owns all rights to Kathryn the Grape and publishes the books under the Kandon Publishing division.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to receive this national recognition for the first two books in the series,” said Cloward, who lives in San Carlos near Lake Murray.
“This is certainly icing on the cake. While our greatest reward is experiencing the spark of recognition from children when they understand the messages we’re sharing through Kathryn the Grape, receiving a Mom’s Choice Award affirms that our purposeful work is not only kid-approved, but parent-approved, too.”
Cloward says sales are going well.
“We are seeing book sales increasing each month because we are getting more and more exposure,” she said Wednesday. “With the second book’s release, kids are wanting more and more of Kathryn the Grape, and appreciative parents are spreading the word to their friends and family that our books are great message rich books.”
She says national exposure helps too, and: “We sell a lot of books through our website and through our distributor, who is the direct link to Ingram and Baker & Taylor (the two largest book wholesalers in the U.S.) and Amazon.com.”
Cloward is counting on a faithful following that understands that “we are a grassroots mom-run business, and they help us spread the word. While good old fashioned word of mouth and social media help us share Kathryn the Grape, I always knew we needed to market ourselves in different and dynamic ways, to set Kathryn the Grape apart from being just another available kids book.”
She says she offers free assemblies.
“I visit preschools and elementary schools conducting educational and inspirational assemblies for students. Parents are able to pre-order autographed books for their kids at a discounted price and the students go home that day with their own book. It is really special.”
A music album set for release April 1 will help open up Kathryn the Grape to a larger market, she says, noting the songs are radio ready with a some tracks that are pop sounding.
“Kids like the music that is played on the radio, but parents are not always pleased with the messages the song lyrics include,” she said. “The Believe album is made up of seven songs kids and parents will want to sing and dance along too.”
According to the Mom's Choice Awards website:
An esteemed panel of judges includes education, media and other experts as well as parents, children, librarians, performing artists, producers, medical and business professionals, authors, scientists and others.
A sampling of the panel members includes Dr. Twila C. Liggett, ten-time Emmy-winner, professor and founder of PBS’s Reading Rainbow; Julie Aigner-Clark, Creator of Baby Einstein and The Safe Side Project; Jodee Blanco, New York Times best-selling author, Priscilla Dunstan, creator of the Dunstan Baby Language; Patricia Rossi, host of NBC’s Manners Minute; Dr. Letitia S. Wright, D.C., host of the Wright PlaceTM TV Show; and Catherine Witcher, M.Ed., special needs expert and founder of Precision Education, Inc.
MCA judges are bound by a strict code of ethics which ensures expert and objective analysis free from any manufacturer association. The evaluation process uses a propriety methodology in which entries are scored on a number of elements including production quality, design, educational value, entertainment value, originality, appeal and cost.
To be considered for an award, each entrant submits five identical samples of a product. Entries are matched to judges in the MCA database. Judges perform a thorough analysis and submit a detailed assessment. Results are compiled and submitted to the MCA Executive Committee for final approval.
“With continued hard work, purposeful determination, and a bag full of trust, I am confident Kathryn the Grape will continue to develop into an internationally recognized brand,” Cloward said. “Manifesting a significant financial investor with connections is next on the agenda!”