Giveaway & Woman of the Week: Jennifer Liu Bryan, co-author of Cole Family Christmas

UPDATE: The winner of the copy of Cole Family Christmas is Val! Thanks everyone for reading and commenting.

Children’s book author Jennifer Liu Bryan is not only A Parent in Silver Spring’s Woman of the Week, she is probably the best granddaughter-in-law in the nation. In her new book, Cole Family Christmas, Jennifer put to paper with skill and love the childhood Christmas tale of her husband’s grandmother and co-author, Hazel Cole Kendle.

The touching story is based upon the special Christmas of 1920 for the nine Cole children, of which Hazel was the youngest. With a father working as a miner in the Appalachian mountains, the children’s Christmas luxury is to choose their gifts from Santa Claus from the Sears catalog wish book. When a huge snowstorm approaches, the large family living on a coal miner’s wages realizes that the gifts ‘neath the tree may be different than their expectations.

Jennifer depicts the Cole family with love and humor reminiscent of TV’s The Waltons and the Ingalls family of the Little House books – salt of the earth, affectionate and realistic. Illustrator Jennifer Julich’s drawings reflect this kind-hearted realism and she based the design of the book on the real vintage quilts made by Mama Cole. Written in nine short chapters, my prekindergartener and I looked forward to a new installment of the story each night, and I see a reading of Cole Family Christmas being added to our home’s traditions. Children third grade – middle school will enjoy devouring the sweet story on their own.

Jennifer says that her love for her grandmother-in-law moved her to take on the telling of the family legend, a task that had been discussed for years within the modern Cole family before Jennifer married in to the clan. She says that working with Hazel to tell this story in a children’s book was a gift.

“I feel like my dream has already been fulfilled, being able to be a part of this amazing family project. I hope the book will inspire other families to set down their family memories, and that families will read this book together during the holiday season.”

Jennifer lives in Alexandria, moving to the DC area in 2003 with her husband to work on the editorial board of USA Today. Jennifer now enjoys being a stay-at-home mom with her 18-month-old son and working on her next book due in 2009. Jennifer wrote Cole Family Christmas during her pregnancy and her son’s first year. She says she was able to accomplish such a feat thanks to deadlines from her publisher, the motivation to tell this important story and her son’s nap schedule.

Still, she wrote her first book while mothering her first newborn! For this alone, Jennifer Liu Bryn is very worthy of the APISS Woman of the Week title. But the real reason for the award is her penning of a great tale that connects with the reader, and shows both in content and process a deep commitment to family.

Leave a comment below before midnight Thursday 10/23 and one lucky winner will win a brand new copy of Cole Family Christmas to share with their own family this holiday season! Winner will announced on Friday.

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