In this post I'm featuring three children's books from Loving Healing Press. The first book, My Brother Is Special: A Cerebral Palsy Story, written and illustrated by Murray Stenton, is a brightly colored picture book narrated by Carter, the younger brother of 10-year-old Ethan, who has cerebral palsy. Published in 2017, this book is dedicated to the late Jewel Kats, an author and disability advocate. My Brother is Special defines and presents cerebral palsy in a manner that children will understand. Told from the perspective of a child, in rhyming couplets, Carter describes Ethan in terms of the differences between them, and the things his brother can't do:
"I know my ABCs, numbers, and how to take a turn. Not Ethan, words, numbers and directions are hard for him to learn."
~ My Brother is Special, Murray Stenton
Fantastic pictures and words show that Carter is messy, whereas Ethan is neat. Carter is a picky eater, but Ethan likes broccoli, etc. Carter also mentions some of Ethan's strengths, such as his ability to listen to a song and quickly figure out the beat, and that Ethan is super friendly at school. Most importantly, Carter says that he loves his brother, and would not "trade him for another". I enjoyed reading this book, and know that My Brother is Special would be a terrific choice of book for children (5 - 8 years) who have a sibling with cerebral palsy, or a different disability. The author's hope is that siblings of children with disabilities will know that they are not alone. The book is based on the author's young family; they are pictured in the back of the book, and are captured well in the illustrations. I learned a few things about cerebral palsy, and am determined to learn more. At the back of the book there's additional information about cerebral palsy, and some helpful websites are listed.
Published in 2016, Jenny and Her Dog Both Fight Cancer: A Tale of Chemotherapy and Caring by author Jewel Kats, illustrated with beautiful 3-D wool paintings by Claudia Marie Lenart, is a picture book about a young girl, Jenny, who is being treated for stomach cancer, who learns that her dog, Dolly, has lung cancer. Jenny "cannot believe her ears", and becomes angry and upset when she learns that Dolly, too, has cancer. This book depicts the feelings of a child undergoing chemotherapy who then learns that her dog will also need chemotherapy. In this book, Jenny feels her feelings, expresses (most) of them, and then decides that she will help Dolly by attending her dog's weekly chemotherapy sessions, and by spending a lot of time with Dolly, who's always been a loyal and devoted dog.
Jenny and Her Dog Both Fight Cancer is a sensitive and touching book that will help children who are dealing with cancer in some way. Both the author and the illustrator lost dogs to cancer, so the book seems true to life and has the right amount of detail for young readers. In the story, Jenny notices the changes in her dog, such as Dolly's loss of energy and appetite, and her desire for more sleep, and so she's extra loving to her dog. The illustrations are soft sculptures made from wool and other natural fibers which are soothing to look at. Children and adults alike will greatly enjoy these gentle, "soft focus" illustrations. This picture book is an excellent choice for children (6 - 9 years), and I highly recommend it for young readers and their families.
Prince Preemie: A Tale of a Tiny Puppy Who Arrives Earlyis another picture book for children (ages 4 - 7) by Jewel Kats (published posthumously in 2017), with 3-D wool paintings by Claudia Marie Lenart. It is simply adorable. This sweet picture book tells the story of the King and Queen, who are expecting their first baby, Prince Puppy. But the pup arrives early, before his crown is built. Oh, oh--tongues begin to wag!
Prince Preemie features magical illustrations which give this book a wonderful, fairy tale like appearance. The dog characters throughout the book are fun and child-friendly, and add to the unique appeal of this story. Reading this book together would be a super way for parents to discuss their own feelings and experiences with a preemie child.
Both of these books by Jewel Kats and Claudia Marie Lenart are cute, but they also deal with serious issues, in a child-appropriate manner.