“God places the lonely in families; He sets the prisoners free and gives them joy. But He makes the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.” Psalm 68:6 (NLT)
A new children’s book featuring a loveable pup, a playful kitten and a heartfelt holiday challenge is coming out just in time for Christmas. “Jack and Theo: One More Stocking” has more than a good message. It has a spiritual message.
As the story begins, Jack, a yellow lab, is snoozing beneath his stocking by the fireplace but wakes to a curious “Meow!” A beautiful, golden kitten, alone in the cold, peers through the living room window. Jack barks to alert Nana of their visitor. She welcomes the kitten inside and names him “Theo,” which means “gift from God.”
Even though their furry guest makes mischief — like climbing to the top of the Christmas tree and toppling the whole thing over — Nana shows Theo true hospitality and the love of Christ. That evening, she gathers her grandchildren and fluffy friends around the Christmas tree to read the story of Esther. Then, Nana hangs one more stocking on the mantle — right beside Jack’s — to show Theo that he is welcome in their home and their family. The story ends with the challenge to hang one more stocking for someone in need this year.
“One More Stocking” was written by author and speaker O’Shea Lowery. Lowery serves as executive director of Entrusted Hope Ministries, the organization that published the book. In a world where children are bombarded with concepts that go against God’s ways, Lowery’s heart was stirred to create a book for children with a good, wholesome message — something that teaches principles found in Scripture. “One More Stocking” is Lowery’s picture book debut.
“I didn’t want a book with just a good message. I wanted one that teaches a biblical principle,” Lowery said. “I want people to know about Jesus and His love.”
And while the story itself is fictional, the illustrations of Jack and Theo are based on real pets. Jack is the beloved pup of Lowery’s friend Lisa Davis. Theo the cat belongs to veterinarian Sonya Bryan, a friend of Lowery’s who financially backed the publication of “One More Stocking” through a donation to Entrusted Hope Ministries.
Bryan was inspired to get involved in the project in part by her love of reading to her now grown daughter who was born blind.
“We read books every day from age 0 to 7 — probably hundreds of books over the years — up until she could read braille books on her own,” Bryan said. “It was always hard to find good books with meaningful life lessons and good Christian messages that were interesting and fun.”
Bryan saw that “One More Stocking” had not just one but many positive messages.
“It teaches children that they are not alone and are loved by God,” Bryan said. “It teaches them to be kind and to help one another and to be kind to animals, which obviously resonates with me since I am a veterinarian.”
The real Theo lives at Bryan’s animal hospital.
“He was an orphaned kitten that we knew had a little something special about his personality, so we decided to keep him,” Bryan said. “He meets and greets our clients, and he has a special sense of when other animals need extra love and support.”
Theo can often be found lying next to and comforting a sick patient or comforting a worried pet parent while they are waiting. And like the book character Theo, “He’s also known to get into some mischief!”
As for Jack, he’s a rescue who joined the Davis family eight years ago. Davis said he’s a precious dog who is always happy.
“He thinks everybody likes him — and they do,” she said. In fact, the bestselling homemade item at the Davis family’s grocery store is Jack’s Trail Mix, which is advertised as a party food because Jack likes to party. “He likes everyone being around,” Davis said. “And he loves a big crowd.”
With the written story and project funding in place, Lowery next needed an illustrator. Sonya Bryan told Lowery, “I just happen to know a most talented artist.”
Max Bundy was soon on board. Bundy used watercolor and colored pencil to bring the pages of “One More Stocking” to life.
“I wanted to make the illustrations vibrant so they will be really appealing to children,” Bundy said. “You can get brighter colors with watercolors than with oil or acrylics.” Bundy believes adults will enjoy this book as much as children because of its universal message.
Lowery said her greatest hope for “One More Stocking” is that families will accept the challenge to welcome someone lonely into their homes this Christmas and show them the love of Christ by hanging up one more stocking.
“It could be an elderly person, a college student or anyone who wishes they were part of a family — like the little kitten looking through the window,” Lowery said. She encourages readers to pray and ask God who their “Theo” might be. “If even one family takes the challenge, it will make a difference in someone’s life.”
To purchase a copy of “Jack and Theo: One More Stocking,” visit Lulu Bookstore, Amazon or Books-A-Million.
Upcoming book signings:
Dec. 3: First Baptist Church Red Bay: 12:15–3 p.m.
Dec. 10: Brooks Grocery in Tupelo, Mississippi: 11 a.m.–2.pm. There may be sightings of the real Jack and Theo at this event.