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Teacher's book tells Jesus' story through the eyes of children

By Sarah Whitman, Times Columnist
Christian author Belinda Kramer will sign copies of her book at Barnes and Noble in Brandon on June 20.

BRANDON — Burns Middle School teacher Belinda Kramer didn't expect to write youth fiction.

A fishing adventure with her nephews inspired Jesus and the Children of Galilee, a 101-page chapter book about Christianity's greatest role model.

"It's so important in this day and age for people of all ages to know Jesus as the living being that he was," said Kramer, who attends St. Francis of Assisi in Seffner. "Children don't have a lot of people to look up to right now. And to me, Jesus is the ultimate teacher to follow. I wanted to tell his story as seen through the eyes of a child."

Kramer, also a freelance journalist and former Tampa Bay Times correspondent, will sign copies of her book from noon to 2 p.m. June 20 at Barnes and Noble in Brandon. A portion of the retail proceeds will go to benefit Friends of the Library.

I spoke to her about the excitement of publishing her first book.

Tell me more about the book.

The book is young adult historical fiction. It follows the story of Jesus in Galilee as told by two young boys. They are out fishing when they meet Jesus. The story accurately references biblical events but the boys themselves are of course fictional. It's a different kind of book because it is told from the perspective of children. It emphasizes what they feel and think and what is important to them. It is a chapter book for youth but it is good for adults to read also. It's not a very long book. I wanted to write something someone could read in one sitting.

What inspired the story?

I was looking at my two nephews out fishing. They were casting nets and I started thinking, what if there were two little boys that encountered Jesus. More than once Scripture references how Jesus loved children. Children gravitated toward him. So the book opens by the seashore and the boys, two brothers ages 12 and 6 at the beginning of the story, are very curious when they see Jesus. He is kind of like a superhero to them.

How did you go about getting the book published?

I joined the Brandon Christian Writers group. I received so much help and encouragement from the group. I was encouraged to submit my book to my publisher, Ambassador. To be honest, I didn't think they would accept it. It's my first book and you hear so much about people experiencing so many rejections. Someone from the publisher visited with us at a workshop conference. When I told him about the book, he showed interest. So I submitted it and they said yes, we'd like to publish it. It really was a surprise to me.

My writing background is really more in journalism. I wrote short stories when I was younger, and won an award for an apocalyptic science fiction story I wrote, but I never wrote historical fiction. It is really a departure for me.

Where can people purchase the book?

It is available at belindakramer.com. It is also on amazon.com and barnes andnoble.com.

Contact Sarah Whitman at [email protected]