Hey Qamber Kids family! Every so often, our team has the opportunity to help support a cause that reaches beyond ourselves. We love what we do, helping bring #kidlit to life and promoting literacy. So we were even more excited than usual to learn about author J.L. Blair's unique book proposal. Below, the author shares the real-life source and inspiration for this special project. We hope this moves you as much as it has us. We hope you are inspired to help create real change too!
"And Love Speaks" follows the thoughts and experiences of 5-year-old Ben after he finds out grandma has ALS.
At first, he’s just confused. “She doesn’t look sick to me.” But as things progress they go from uncertain to downright scary.
He doesn’t like these changes and wishes everything would go back to normal. The wise words of his grandma echo in his mind, helping him adjust to this new reality.
Word from the Author
When my mother-in-law called to tell me she’d been diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis [ALS], I had to research it to fully understand what it was and how things would progress. You hear ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and images of the baseball player or Stephen Hawking come to mind, but in reality, most of us don’t know a thing about it until we find out someone we know and love has it.
Imagine, now, being a child and learning that your grandmother has been diagnosed with ALS. At first glance (and second and third), it’s terrifying. ALS is a motor neuron disease that starts with symptoms so subtle, they’re often overlooked. As it progresses, muscles stop receiving signals from the brain, leading to decreasing functional ability. Depending on a child’s age, they may be confused, scared, and worried as they watch the progression with their own eyes.
“What’s happening?” “Why’s it happening?” “Is it going to happen to me too?”
When my mother-in-law called to tell me she’d been diagnosed with ALS, we spent a lot of time talking about the kids. My two children and my nephew—her three grandchildren—range in ages from 5-11 years old. She brought up a meeting she’d had with her medical team, and when she asked if there were books available, geared toward a young audience to better explain ALS, they couldn’t provide any titles. Turns out, there are very few, and they’re not reaching the hands that need them.
Let’s change that.
As a librarian, former teacher, and published author, I will use my experience and education to work efficiently to create appropriate and effective stories that help kids make sense of this difficult disease. Through 3 stages, we’re going to create and distribute literature suitable for kids to ease their worries and address their confusion.
STAGE 1 I’ve teamed up with Qamber Kids and talented illustrator, Mark Balita, to create a picture book for ages 4-8. And Love Speaks follows the thoughts and experiences of 5-year-old Ben after he finds out grandma has ALS. At first he’s just confused. “She doesn’t look sick to me.” But as things progress they go from uncertain to downright scary. He doesn’t like these changes and wishes everything would go back to normal. The wise words of his grandma echo in his mind, helping him adjust to this new reality.
STAGE 2 Ben’s older brother and sister are also coping with the difficult news. In a middle-grade novel that follows the same timeline as And Love Speaks, Leah and Elliot take two different approaches to finding out their grandma is sick. Leah puts all her time and focus into friends and middle school, pretending nothing at home has changed, while Elliot’s anger gets the best of him and he starts getting into trouble. What will it take for them to turn back to their family to process their feelings?
STAGE 3 Distribution! It’s not enough to write these books and make them available through retailers. We want the medical and ALS communities to know they exist. We want them in their hands so they can get them into the families’ hands that need them. My stage 3 goal is to deliver free sets of books to as many ALS treatment centers across the United States as possible. I’ve taken on a hefty endeavor, but it’s important to me, to my family, and to many others out there who are being impacted by ALS. Now we need you to join the team to help make this happen.
Please consider donating to the cause.
Any amount will help, and the faster we raise the funding for these projects, the faster these books will be created.
Here’s what your donations will cover:
And Love Speaks - The writing, illustrating, formatting, editing, publishing, and packaging of this picture book
Leah & Elliot’s middle grade novel - The writing, cover design, editing, formatting, publishing, and packaging of this book
Processing, shipping, and handling of the book sets to as many ALS treatment centers as we can reach.
Donating to ALS research - There is no cure, and the progression can be rapid. If we exceed our goals, any remaining funds after covering costs will go to the organizations that make a difference.
Once the books are released, their royalties earned will continue to fund ALS-based causes. This is the sort of gift that we hope will keep on giving indefinitely.