AVA THE MERMAID
Ava the Mermaid is the third in my series of books, which are all named after my children. I wrote Maya the Unicorn and Oscar the Dragon before Ava was even a twinkle in my eye! The story in both of these was written to encourage confidence and self-belief in children as they grow up. When I was pregnant with Ava I knew I also wanted to write a story for her but had no idea what the theme of her book would be.
We received a post-natal diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome for Ava, she was our gorgeous little surprise. At three days old we found out she had a hole in her heart, which would require heart surgery. Her surgery took place at 4 months old when her heart failure was becoming harder to manage and she was failing to grow. She was a teeny tiny 4kg at the time of her surgery but being the fighter that she is she was home less than a week later.
I started to think about the story I would write for Ava and with help from my mum we came up with a mermaid as I wanted to keep with the theme of mythical characters. I wanted to raise awareness through her book and came up with the idea of encouraging and promoting kindness and inclusion regardless of difference, disability or difficulty.
Although there are a few nods to Down’s Syndrome and my little heart warrior in the book I wanted to make sure that it was also applicable to all. If you look closely you will see Ava’s heart warrior scar, hers and Betsy’s tails have three colours instead of two, like the other mermaids, and their fins are slightly shorter making it harder for them to swim as fast. The story highlights that although we all have differences and we all struggle with different things it’s important to realise that we can help each other out and, ultimately, there is so much we can learn from each other.
As with the first two books, there are activities at the back in line with the theme; space to write or draw who helps when you struggle, who you help, as well as the things you are good at. It’s all too easy to forget what we can do and sometimes it’s nice to have a reminder. I hope the book encourages children to be kind and show support to one another, realise that nobody is perfect and that we can find ways to include everyone in games that we play and the lives that we live.
In order to make the book more accessible, I’m currently looking at ways to create an audio version with the pictures and will be sharing readings of it being signed in Makaton on my social media pages.
So far the book has had a great reception with a number of charities and groups using them for various projects. One mum is using it to sign a story with her local support group for World Down Syndrome Day, Positive About Down Syndrome have included them in their packs to schools, also for World Down Syndrome Day.
If you would like to order a copy they’re available at http://www.eleanorbaggaley.com or get in touch with me via social media.
Photo Credit Michelle Williams photography http://www.facebook.com/