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CHRISTMAS BOOK A GIFT FOR KIDS
Local cafe owner writes Christmas book for kids

 Illustrator Ken Myers (left) and author Josh Grein talk at Grein's Before 'n' After Cafe.
ROBERT A. MARTIN/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 12/19/2012

BY KATIE THISDELL

Petunia Bobbin is carrying bags full of Christmas purchases when she notices a baby robin all by itself.

It has lost its mother amid the holiday chaos. Can the fictional little girl help?

First-time author Josh Grein takes the pair on a journey along the East Coast looking for the bird's mother, who headed south for the winter, in "Petunia Bobbin and the Baby Robin: A Christmas Adventure."

Proceeds from the book's sales will benefit the Toys For Tots Foundation as well as Ebenezer United Methodist Church, which Grein attends along with the book's illustrator and editor.

"I love to write--it's my escape," said Grein, who owns a cafe in Stafford with his wife. "It's just going off in a whole different world."

The 42 pages of rhyming lines and accompanying artwork by Stafford resident Ken Myers have been years in the making.

"Anybody can start writing a book. Finishing it, that's a completely different ballgame," said Grein, who had it self-published.

When the book didn't get done last year, he said, it felt as if something was missing.

"I don't know how," he vowed at the time, "but I will get it done."

He said it doesn't matter to him how many are sold--just that he has hard copies in his hands to give to friends and relatives.

After growing up in a military family and moving around the country, Grein figured he'd have Petunia and Baby Robin journey to all 50 states between the book's two covers--but that quickly turned out to be too much for one volume.

Now he has planned three more books for Petunia's travels, focused on different holidays and seasons.

"I thought it was quite something to take on," said Patty Hosler, who helped to edit the book. "I was very impressed that he would do such a thing."

She knew Grein was a singer because they both perform in the choir at Ebenezer United Methodist, "so it never occurred to me that he was an author as well."

BOOK COMES TO LIFE

Grein, 38, moved to Stafford in 2003, where he soon met his wife, Bettina.

Both are Realtors, and together they opened Before 'n' After Cafe off Courthouse Road in North Stafford in February 2011.


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