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Local cafe owner writes Christmas book for kids

 Illustrator Ken Myers (left) and author Josh Grein talk at Grein's Before 'n' After Cafe.
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Date published: 12/19/2012


When they first looked at the vacant space, the plan was to open a real estate office. Immediately, Josh Grein felt the cafe vibe. Neither had restaurant experience, but within a few months, the cafe opened--with the name referring to its coffee for before work and its dinner and drinks for after. (They did open a realty office in the back.)

The cafe, which many church members frequent, has also turned into the main sales point for the hardcover book. An acrylic painting of the book's characters, done by Myers, 55, hangs near the book display.

"I knew the pictures had to describe a lot. Almost every one, he got it right off the bat," Grein said about Myers, who retired recently as a special agent in the FBI and has never had any formal art classes.

The two knew each other through their church, but it was Hosler who suggested they collaborate.

"None of us knew that the other people could do the things that we did," said Hosler, a retired Stafford elementary school teacher who put her red pen to use on Grein's draft.

For Myers, a self-described detail-oriented and law-educated man, it was his first time illustrating a book.

Will he be illustrating the rest of the Petunia series?

"He better be," said Grein, who describes himself as spontaneous. "It was really neat to watch it come to life."


After meeting each other at a busy shopping center on Christmas Eve, Petunia and Baby Robin journey south from Maine. Along the way, many characters help them search for the robin's mother.

When they meet Santa, time slows down on the clocks set in each scene, allowing the pair to reach Florida before Christmas.

Myers and Grein agreed that Virginia was their favorite page. Here, the little girl and bird stop at Marine Corps Base Quantico.

Grein's father was a Marine, and now helps lead the Toys for Tots Foundation--making it an obvious choice to donate proceeds to.

"I'm very proud of it, actually. I think it really has a nice message to it," said Hosler. "Through the artwork, it brings so much more to it."

Grein and Myers signed copies of books that she's excited to give to her two young grandsons for Christmas.

"I get to read it to them the first time," Hosler said.

Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975
Email: kthisdell@freelancestar.com

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