Christmas time is a time of celebration, family, sharing gifts and a delicious meal. It is also a time of reflection and taking summary of the last year. “Christmas is a good time to remember influential people in our lives especially while growing up,” said author Kathy Curtis Harward.
Harward’s values and disciplines were inspired by her grandmother, Edna Curtis, and it has proven to be a wonderful life.
Harward grew up in Imperial as Kathy Curtis and graduated from Chase County High School in 1978. Her parents are Guy and Ruth Curtis, Guy being a retired Chase County Attorney who also wrote a regular column in the ImperialRepublican for a number of years called “One Guy’s Opinion,” she said.
“I guess it was a fact that my dad’s writing probably influenced me because he was a ‘word’ person, so I grew up around words,” said Harward. “But our writing styles are much different,” she continued. She recently published a children’s book called “The Lost Recipe” that’s set inImperial. Over the years, she said she has become more and more aware of how world events have changed the general ideology of the populace, especially in children and young people.
“World events have more recently influenced me, too. I have observed that there’s a trend to blame others for one’s problems— tearing others down for their differences,” Harward said. She feels that children today need to focus more on everyday heroes who are creators, makers and builders instead of destroyers.
Her view of destructive behavior can be exhibited, in one example, she said when humans put other humans into “buckets” labeled with color, race, beliefs, etc. and react to those differences negatively. Harward felt there was a need for dramatic stories for children highlighting everyday heroes in their lives—heroes they could relate to—parents, teachers, other adults, she said.
“I’ve always felt young children prefer to play with pots and pans out of the cabinet rather than toys,” said Harward, “so I wanted to write ‘pots and pans’ stories about people in their lives who create and do things for themselves and the world. I think Imperial is like that.” Children can see and understand what is important.
“Books are my way as a humble antidote against a not-so-good part of current culture to direct blame away from ourselves instead of learning about people, their accomplishments and recognizing goodness we can share in,” she said.
More About Harward
A fun fact Harward related while she was in high school at CCS was there wasn’t girls’ basketball offered until she was in her sophomore year.When girls’ basketball began, there were three other girls with the same first name who played on the team, which made it confusing for statisticians and reporters.She said she shared the roster with Kathy Donjon, Kathy Howell and Cathy Weir, and enjoyed being a part of the early days of girls getting a shot at competing at basketball in school.
After high school, she became a lawyer and married Ken Harward. The couple are parents to twin girls, Callie and Ellie, now 26 years old, and Anna, age 23. “We moved to Fort Collins, Colorado in 1988 where we still live,” she said. Harward worked as a lawyer for 35 years with the last 14years employed as a campus lawyer for students attending Colorado StateUniversity in Fort Collins. “I’ve been dabbling in writing for about 25 years after joining a writers group. I mostly just wrote short stories for adults,” Harward said.
While working with college students, she said she was influenced by their ideas and opinions which eventually motivated her to start writing for children, she added. “During the months after the pandemic began, I had to work exclusively from home. I began to see a silver lining even though it was tough during the shutdowns,” she said.
She started reading dozens of children’s books from the public library, and found she was disappointed in some of the content.
After retiring as a lawyer in 2020, she began thinking about sharing her own thoughts in book form by writing her own stories for children using the wisdom gleaned from her grandmother who influenced her thought processes, allowing her to pass down positive influences to her own children.
“Growing up with my grandmother, she inspired me with how she lived her life,” said Harward. Edna made incredible homemade bread every week, she added. “She made bread and lived a generous and joyful life by always making extra bread to give away,” Harward said. She made daily visits to the nursing home and was always involved in the community. How Edna lovingly made her bread is how she lived her life — with joy, generosity and kindness to others.
In this book, “The Lost Recipe,” no one can find the treasured recipe. The book is a mystery leading the reader as the characters search for the recipe. “I bake bread as well but I use a sourdough starter. I make bread every week just like grandma, and I always make extra to give away just like she did,” said Harward.
Harward’s mom is German, she said, and still bakes quite a lot, too. “Mom is slowing down, though, and my daughters are too busy to cook all the time, but the tradition is instilled in them all the same,” she said. This time of year avails many opportunities to see the good that exists. Holidays are a wonderful time to slow down enough to reflect and give oneself a chance to create and reach out to others, she said.
Harward’s connections with her illustrators for her books are through upwork.com. “It’s a good site for any kind of freelancer who would like to co-create with someone else,” she added. Her three main illustrators are from Venezuela, Poland and Siberia. “I love this wonderful small town(Imperial), and I encourage anyone that they can do anything they want, and co-create with anyone in the world,” said Harward.
“The Lost Recipe” is the second book Harward has published at Brandy Pie Books. The first book is titled “The Shared Dog,” and she has two more books at the printers now to be released soon. The next two books are “The Paddleboard Dog” and “Who Likes Green Pancakes?” which is about children who have to be in the hospital during Christmas and other holidays.
Harward’s books can be purchased by going to her website at www.brandypiebooks.com.
“I always say my books are written for anyone from age three to 100 because the stories engage adults, too, while reading to children,” she said.
Original print article from The Imperial Republican in Imperial, NE can be found here.