A Lansford woman's first children's book, a sweet story about how guardian angels are assigned to babies, was a labor of love for two very special little girls.
"I wanted to do something for my great-granddaughters," said Rita McIntyre Klekamp, author of "Honeysuckle and Gumdrop: Babies and Angels, a Match Made in Heaven." The girls, Ava, 2, and Gianna, 9 months, are the daughters of Klekamp's granddaughter Erin Cataldi and her husband Adam of Dover, York County.
"They just give me so much joy, and I want to do something that they will have to remember Nana by," Klekamp said.
She'll be signing copies of the book from 4:30 -9 p.m. Sept. 17 at the Parkview Inn in Summit Hill.
"The essence of (the story) is that everybody has a guardian angel, and that angels can come in various forms they can come as policemen, nurses, firemen," Klekamp said.
Klekamp says the idea for the book came to her from the Holy Spirit.
"It just sort of came to me, how guardian angels are assigned to babies," Klekamp said. "I wanted it to be a spiritual book, but I also wanted it to be developmentally educational for children."
The book, in a gentle and age-appropriate manner, describes how a baby grows and develops in the womb. The story, illustrated by Emily Schilling of Coaldale, shows babies in Heaven, tended to by nurse angels, and a Celebration angel, who is "sort of the birthday angel," Klekamp explained, "who takes the guardian angels when they are ready and puts them on the babies' shoulders."
The guardian angels guide their babies through potty training, eating and sleeping, and "nudge" their mothers if there is anything wrong.
The story begins with Ava, whose guardian angel is Honeysuckle. Gianna's angel is Gumdrop. Their Mommy and Daddy have their own guardian angels: a heart-shaped angel named Lovey Dove for Mommy, and one named Rocco for Daddy.
God assigns the guardian angels to babies, matching the protectors with their tiny charges' looks and personalities, Klekamp wrote, "so they would always get along."
Honeysuckle began as a little bud on a vine, and Ava would be born "looking like a soft, fluttery flower. She would be all pink with soft fuzz on her head. She would have big blue eyes, the color of the sky, and would be very delicate and beautiful," Klekamp wrote.
"When the little bud popped out of the vine and started to grow, all the other angels were so excited ... they knew who Ava was, and knew that Honeysuckle would be a perfect match."
For Gianna, God decides to make a gumdrop tree, because Gianna would be born the day after Christmas, and that children love gumdrops on their Christmas trees.
Gumdrop angel "would be covered with white sparkly sugar. Her color would be strawberry, just like a strawberry that was not totally ripe. It would be a bright pink in the center, with a gold halo around the outside edges. Eventually, like all angels, the gumdrop would have wings the color of lemon cotton candy, and would have sugar crystals all over them," Klekamp wrote.
Schilling's darling illustrations lend a delicate touch.
Efforts to reach Schilling, who graduated in spring from Marian High School, Hometown, and is now a student at Temple University's Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, were unsuccessful.
Ava and Gianna's mother, Erin Cataldi, is thrilled with the book, although she has yet to see the finished version.
"My husband and I love the book. It was exciting seeing our girls in a published book. It actually brought a tear to my eye we never thought that would happen," she said. "The story is a great way to teach children about guardian angels. We love that our Nana took all this time to write a book about my girls. This is something that they will have to cherish forever, and not many people can say they had a book written about them."
The book has the approval of the Rev. Kenneth Medve, pastor of St. Katharine Drexel Church in Lansford.
The book "introduces the reader to the amazing mystery of guardian angels," he wrote in a blurb at the end of the book. "Though we do not know much about the mechanics of how God pairs human beings with a guardian angel, it is a striking example of how God makes every effort to watch over us with love."
Klekamp has already begun thinking about her next book, about parents and their guardian angels, featuring Lovey Dove and Rocco. Klekamp is also thinking of carrying the guardian angels over into coloring books, soft ornaments that can be used in mobiles or to hang on doors.
She'd like to see the book used in CCD classes, and plans to contact Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) in the hope that it would help promote the book. Klekamp is having 1,000 copies of her book printed by TN Printing. She invites those interested in learning more about the book to e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org