Kathryn Butler’s middle-grade fantasy adventure series, the Dream Keeper Saga, includes themes and allegory meant to inspire discussion about our hope in Christ—you won’t want to miss these books.
Tell us about yourself!
I’m a sinner saved by Jesus, blessed by God’s grace. Less importantly, I’m a trauma surgeon turned writer and homeschooling mom who goes by Katie, Mum, Mommy, and occasionally Dr. Butler.
I’ve now exchanged the scalpel for caterpillar terrariums, peanut butter and jelly, and plenty of moments when the Lord lays bare my insufficiencies. In the crevices of days, I write about faith, medicine, and the joys of reading great stories with kids.
I’ve written two books on medical topics from a Christian perspective and am also the author of the Dream Keeper Saga, a five-book series of middle-grade fantasy novels with Christian themes, intended to point families to the Gospel through vivid storytelling.
Tell us about your chapter books.
The Dream Keeper Saga is a middle-grade fantasy adventure series with Christian themes. It’s intended as a read-aloud series for families, although kids aged 8-12 can easily enjoy the books independently.
The series includes Christian themes and allegory meant to inspire discussion about our hope in Christ.
What kind of child are you trying to reach with your books?
Kids ages 8 to 12 years old (as well as their families!) who love The Chronicles of Narnia and The Wingfeather Saga will also find the Dream Keeper books appealing.
The books have some heavy themes and a few scary scenes that might overwhelm young and sensitive readers (commensurate with the content of the Green Ember books), but kids who love fast-paced adventure stories in faraway realms will feel right at home!
Give us a little flavor of some great characters or the setting.
From The Dragon and the Stone:
Too bedraggled to think and too nervous to move, Lily lay back on the ground and stared at the sky. The daylight dimmed as an enormous cloud, bright at its margins but heavy and gray at the center, passed in front of the sun. Lily squinted and concentrated on its shape. Was it a car? No, it was far too top-heavy. A train? No, too triangular.
A ship, she realized. The edges of the cloud sharpened into the image of a schooner, complete with mast and sails, drifting through the sky. Who’s sailing it? she asked herself, and the more she pondered, the more the ship became real to her. She imagined a privateer swabbing the deck in the early morning as the boat glided above a blanket of stratus clouds. She saw the ship cut through the sky toward the Cascades, then wheel about when the wind filled its sails. It swooped downward, following the slope of the waterfall.
As it sailed across the basin, the clouds dissipated to reveal the wooden frame of the ship, painted forest green. It drew closer, and she half-expected to see barnacles clinging to its prow.
Actually, she *could* see barnacles.
Lily sat up and rubbed her eyes to brush away the daydream. When she opened them, she anticipated the ship would return to the sky high above her and resume its role as just another cloud amid the jumble. Instead, it sliced across the air above the basin and headed straight for her.
Lily jumped to her feet. At her neck, the soothstone emanated its steady, pale glow. “Oh no! Cedric! Cedric, wake up!” Lily cried. “I made something happen, and I think it was a mistake!” She jostled her dragon companion awake, and Cedric darted backward at the sight of the ship barreling toward them.
“Merciful heavens, what is this?” Cedric tripped and cried out as he landed on his wounded hind leg. Lily grabbed him to drag him way, but she was too late. The ship raced toward them, and water dripped from the keel to puddle on their heads. Lily and Cedric hunkered low to the ground, and Lily screamed as the ship bore down upon them. She crouched with her arms covering her head, squeezed her eyes shut, and waited for the impact.
It never came. She felt only the drip of water, salty and smelling of seaweed. Lily lowered her hands and dared to look up.
The ship hovered in the air directly above her, with fringes of cloud wavering at its edges. Lily reached out a hand. She envisioned her arm passing right through the ship, as through a dense fog, but as she sank her hand into the mist, her palm settled on a beam of damp wood.
“Ahoy, there!” A man with a ponytail leaned over the railing and waved a triangular hat. “Where away, landlubbers?”
What inspired you to write this series?
The Dream Keeper Saga arose from a hard time in our family’s lives when we witnessed the power of great stories to keep Gospel hope close.
In the spring of 2020, I returned to work in the ICU to help with the COVID crisis. It was early in the pandemic, and we knew very little about the lethality and communicability of the coronavirus, but the hospitals in Boston were overwhelmed. My son was old enough to understand the crisis, and he was scared I would contract the virus myself. The turmoil stirred up a lot of questions for him about God’s goodness.
To help guide him, my husband and I led him in a study of Job, which over the next year offered him a strong framework for thinking about God’s work through suffering. In the moment, however, we found that Tolkien offered us a life raft to buoy us through the storm.
I was reading The Return of the King to my kids at the time. During one afternoon between ICU shifts, we cuddled on the couch and read about the riders of Rohan rushing to aid their kinsmen at Minas Tirith. All seemed lost before their arrival, with gloom and despair hanging heavy over the land . . . but then, the wind changed, and the dawn broke again. The scene brought both my son and me to tears, and we talked about why—the passage reminded us, when we most needed to remember, that no matter what darkness grips us in life, our hope endures because Christ will return and make all things new. Christ has saved us. And through Christ, the morning will return.
That moment cemented in my mind the power of vibrant stories to point kids to Gospel hope. Thereafter, when an image surfaced in my mind of a girl stumbling upon a dragon in her kitchen, I let the idea linger. I started asking questions about that girl, and about that dragon, rather than dismissing them as children’s play. I realized that by His grace, sometimes children’s stories are as vital as air.
How did you know you wanted to be an author?
Writing has always been a joy for me, for as long as I can remember. I began in preschool—I would draw pictures to tell stories, then staple them together into “books” and dictate the narrative to my father.
Although the Lord drew me away to medicine for a season, when that season ended, my love of words remained. I found writing to be a way to steward my experiences to minister to others. Writing is caught up in worship—when we pay attention to His work in the world and try to put words to what we witness, we draw closer to His love and goodness.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Write for the joy of it, rather than to “get published.” Trust the process. If you’re struggling to plot a story, just begin typing a scene, and see where it takes you. Read great books as often as you can.
What formats are your books available in?
Find them all here.
What’s next for the Dream Keeper Saga?
Lost in the Caverns, the third book in the Dream Keeper Saga will release May 2, 2023. The fourth book is currently in the works and will likely release in 2024.
How can parents find you?
People can find me on my website, kathrynbutler.com, or at crossway.org/authors/kathryn-butler.
All my books are available on Amazon in eBook, paperback, and audiobook formats.
You can also purchase them at Crossway, Christianbook, and Westminster Kids.
If you’re in the market for chapter books, I’d love to share my series with you! Collar Cases is a Christian mystery series for readers 7-12.
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