Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 7, 2020

Book Giveaway: WILL YOU BE FRIENDS WITH ME? by Kathleen Long Bostrom

Kathleen Long Bostrom has written a new picture book, WILL YOU BE FRIENDS WITH ME? by Jo de Ruiter. It’s published by WorthyKids and hits bookstores on July 7th. Kathleen has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Kathleen and Jo, especially at this stressful time when authors and illustrators need to promote their books completely online.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


Celebrate the differences that make life richer and more interesting with this inclusive board book about a budding friendship.
Making friends is something all children do, but sometimes it can feel scary. They might worry that no one will like them or that they are too different to find a friend. In this sweet board book, the narrator lists all the ways children can be different from a prospective friend: “I wake early. You sleep late. My hair’s curly. Yours is straight. I say, ‘Now!’ You say, ‘Wait?’ Will you be friends with me?” Instead of worrying that these differences will make friendship impossible, the narrator decides that: “We’re all different. That’s okay! Life is much more fun that way.” Perfect for children heading to school or any child in a new situation trying to make friends, this encouraging book reassures readers that diversity is what makes friendship–and life–so interesting.


Once upon a time that now seems far, far away but was only a little more than a year ago, I sat at my writing desk pondering the focus of my next children’s book. Stacked in piles all around me, finished manuscripts that needed editing multiplied like weeds after the rain. “Pick me, Kathy! Pick me!” they seemed to say. I love them all so what to do? Which one should I pluck from the ever-growing pile to fine tune into a manuscript ready to submit?

Overwhelmed by opportunity, I checked my email. It’s a great procrastination tool, one I’m struggling to reign in but not having much success in doing so. And there was the answer to my dilemma.

My agent’s emails always pop out at me, eternal optimist that I am. Had a manuscript been accepted? Not quite, but the next best thing. An editor with whom I hadn’t worked was very, very interested in connecting with me after reading through several submissions of my work. A phone call was arranged between the three of us. This was mid-April 2019.

In that conversation the editor expressed an interest in my coming up with a board book series, topic to be determined. I love writing board books. They were out of vogue for a while, so I was delighted to know of their resurgence and set to work brainstorming ideas.

The concept of friendship kept nudging me. I made a list of different aspects of friendship and found myself finally focusing. I’d write a board book on friendship that highlights how we’re different from one another, but showing how that is good.

Next, I made lists of opposites: fast/slow, cold/hot, sour/sweet, curly hair/straight hair, etc. I wanted to show differences in personality, appearance, and personal preferences in order to make the story well-rounded. Some things we are born with, such as type of  hair. Some we learn as we grow: taste preferences, for instance. And some traits are what give us our personalities. I mined on the differences between my siblings and me, and among my three children. Words started spilling from my pen. Yes, I still do write with a pen and paper when I first begin a manuscript. I love the process, the feel of the pen in my hand and the smooth flow of the ink on the white page. Also, I don’t throw any of my notes away. This is especially helpful because I write a lot in rhyming verse. I might throw out a line early on and then retrieve it later. It’s happened many times.

One of my first stanzas started out,

“I like pink.

You like blue.

Can I be friends with you?”

Saving notes is also helpful because by the time a book is complete I have a folder full of notes whereby I can go back and see the progression of a book. It has helped me write this blog!

I wanted the child asking the question to be a bit tentative; shy perhaps, like I am, taking the risk to reach out to another person. But also questioning: Hey, we’re different? Can we still be friends?

As my first stanzas filled the pages, I sought images that I could blend together. I wanted to fuse the differences. To do so, I changed the colors to orange and pink:

“Orange and pink? A sunset sky!

Short and tall: we reach up high!”

Oh, how I loved the image of that sunset sky! I’m obsessed with sunsets, and living two miles from the Pacific Ocean I am blessed to see many in person.

But as I wrote, I struggled to blend the differences. I took several early drafts of the manuscript to my writing critique group whose opinions and comments I fully trust and covet. We began to think that a better message would be to show that we’re different, and we don’t have to blend those differences but rather applaud them. Without our differences, life would be boring. Let’s celebrate our differences, and forge friendships with people who aren’t like us.

The manuscript took off.

I also changed the refrain from, “Can I be friends. . .” to “Will you be friends with me?” That phrase summed up a bit of the tentative aspect of trying to make a new friend, but also the possibility. “I think we can be friends, what do you think?”

This was in mid-May. I worked every moment I could on fine-tuning the pairings of contrasts, setting up the rhyme scheme and refrain. I used two of my previous board books, God Loves You and Thank You, God! as format ideas. Page by page, the book took shape.

The biggest challenge then was taking the contrasting pairings from the beginning of the book and making sure the ending, where the differences become okay, played out in the same sequence as they were presented. So from the first stanza that included curly/straight hair, and the second that referred to “crayon/ink” and the third that included messy/neat, I combined these into:

“Straight or curly? It’s just hair!

Ink or crayon? We can share!

Neat or messy? I don’t care!

Will you be friends with me?”

I wrote and rewrote and rewrote and numerous revisions later, I had a manuscript ready to send to the waiting editor. This was mid-May 2019.

My agent submitted it not only to the one editor but to several other editors with whom I’ve worked in the past. Two weeks later, we received a reply, not from the first editor but from another one, who loved the manuscript and wanted to move it through acquisitions, pronto.

Never in twenty-five years of writing and submitting manuscripts had I EVER had such a quick acceptance. It took me four years and 250 rejections before I ever had my first manuscript accepted. Two weeks was a new record!

The publisher found the most amazing illustrator: Jo de Ruiter. Her charming artwork added a wonderful dimension to the story through what is known as a “daisy chain.” Instead of two children talking back and forth as I had imagined, the illustrations show two children in one spread, then one of these children is depicted in the next spread with a new child, and then that child moves to the next spread, and so on. At the end, all the children come together with the final line. Brilliant! The illustrations conveyed diversity, which I had intended all along. I wanted the book to show children of different colors and abilities. I wanted it to be subtle but obvious, if that makes sense, and that’s exactly how the book turned out.

Children long to see themselves in books, and this book allows that to happen. Diversity and differences are shown, but celebrated. Cherish what makes us different! That message is crucial right now, but always has been. I am grateful and proud to have a book where children can see themselves, and know that their differences are what make them unique and wonderful, and life much more fun.

Once upon a time is now happily ever after. I have a new book in the world! And one that I hope, is just what a child, somewhere, needs right now.


I’ve been an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) since 1983. My husband, Greg, and I live in Carlsbad, California, where I write full-time in an office looking out over a grove of eucalyptus trees.

I’ve won awards for preaching and am often requested to speak for groups at the national level. I’ve published numerous articles in various journals and newspapers and am the author of over three dozen books, most of them for children. Who is Jesus? was a finalist for the 2000 Gold Medallion Award, which is given to the outstanding books in Christian publishing, and What About Heaven? was nominated for the People’s Choice Award. I’m included in a 2003 edition of “Something About the Author” and “Contemporary Authors,” two of the premiere reference sources for information on children’s authors.

My books (over 50) have sold well over two million copies in the 18 years since my first book was published, and my Little Blessings books are printed in 20 languages, including Chinese, Russian, and Indonesian. The Italian translations can be found in the Vatican bookstore in Rome, Italy. I’m a member of the Presbyterian Writers Guild and held office as its president for two terms. I also belong to the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Authors Guild.

It was a great honor to be named the 2013 Distinguished Alumna of Princeton Theological Seminary, in large part for my ministry of books for children. Then in 2014, I was thrilled to be named as the David Steele Distinguished Writer, the most prestigious award given by the Presbyterian Writers Guild.

I earned a master of arts in Christian education and a master of divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey, and a doctor of ministry in preaching degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. Greg and I have three grown children: Christopher, Amy, and David, all three of whom live in Los Angeles pursuing careers in the film business. I enjoy reading, swimming, watching Rafael Nadal play tennis, and snuggling with my little empty-nest dog, Ellie.


My work is created with a dip pen and ink, and watercolour. These are my absolute favourite mediums; I love their unpredictable nature. In a predominantly digital world, the tactile quality of my work has a traditional essence which I find comforting. I’ve been blessed with a big imagination and I want to raise a smile with my illustrations. I love details, and I want people to return to what I’ve drawn and see something they didn’t see before.

I graduated from Lincoln University with a Masters in Design, specialising in illustration – and I finished with a distinction!

In 2012 I won the ‘Illustrate It’ competition and was lucky enough to illustrate my first published picture book: ‘The Incredible Chapore’.

I’m now represented by the wonderful Advocate Art, I’ve worked on various projects, and I’ve just finished illustrating my third book ‘Prince Handsome and the Princess Engineer’, due to be published in 2015!

I now live in Bath with my lovely husband, and when I’m not drawing, painting or collecting picture books, we are off exploring the world’s curiosities – and eating yummy food.

Kathleen, Thank you for sharing your book and its’ journey with us. Happy to see a good book to help young children see and appreciate each others differences. Perfect for this time in our history. Love the illustrations Jo did to bring this story to life. Good luck with the book!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. so sweet and something the littles always worry about


  2. What an adorable book!


  3. This book looks so sweet -one can never have too many books about friendship -congrats!


  4. Congrats, Kathleen! Looks like a fun book.

    (I get the emails, too.)


  5. What a delightful book! I would love a copy. Congratulations Kathleen and Jo.


  6. I love the concept of this sweet book! The message is so beautiful and important today. Congratulations, Kathleen and Jo!

    I am sharing this post on both my Facebook page and my author Facebook page. I prescribe to this blog and look forward to reading each post.


  7. Such a lovely and very much needed book! Thanks for sharing it along with your process!


  8. Oh my goodness! This book is a breath of fresh air with great stanzas & beautiful art work. Congrats on it being “born” today. It’s lovely.
    (I follow you, Kathy Temean.)


  9. Very sweet with a lovely message. I so enjoy seeing myself as a child in the illustrated pages, as I know many children will. Thank you Kathleen!


    • Thanks, Sheri! I’m glad you see yourself in the book, that’s what we hoped for!


  10. Love the sound of this one!


  11. Sounds like a wonderful story! And such heart-warming illustrations 🙂


  12. Can’t wait to read this. What a cute story.


  13. What a lovely book! Thanks for sharing the writing process and I love the idea of the daisy chain illustrations. Congratulations!


    • Glad you enjoyed the blog, Claire, I enjoyed writing it!


  14. What a darling book! How neat an editor asked you to write!


  15. I love your line about orange and pink sunsets, too, and wonder if it ended up in the book. Thanks for sharing how your manuscript evolved. It’s fascinating to get a glimpse of what is added — and dropped — from the original concept. (Kathy, I subscribe to your blog.)


  16. Thank you for the opportunity to win this! My grandkids would love it!! I am sharing this on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and Pinterest!


    • Thanks so much for sharing, Nancy! I appreciate that!


    • I hope your grandchildren enjoy the book!


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