Monday, November 12, 2012

Children's Books For A Cause... Please Share!!

As you likely know if you've been following this blog for any length of time, my husband and I lost our son Henry three years ago to an undiagnosed immune deficiency disorder. In short, Henry woke up sick on Friday morning, October 30th, 2009, and closed his eyes for the last time three days later, aged three years and four months old. He was an amazing little boy, so vibrant and happy, always smiling, and he loved animals. "Aminals," as he called them, were his life. Every day I would take him and his brother Jack to the little zoo in town and walk around the circle. Sometimes we would go twice a day, because he loved it that much. He was always very concerned about the animals. If boys three times his age were being mean to the animals, Henry had no problem telling them so. "Be good to the 'aminals'!" was his mantra, and I heard it more than once in his short life.

At night my husband, Darrin, and I would share bedtime duties. Henry had a three part routine that required first Mama, then Papa, and then Mama again one last time. During "Papa time," Henry would describe the animals he saw that day and their antics, and he and Darrin would conjure up bedtime stories about the animals, always interjecting Henry into the stories to remind others to treat them with kindness and respect. Henry always saved the day. 

After his passing, we decided to publish these bedtime stories in memory of him, and created the Adventures of Henry book series. We published our first book, Timmy The Goat, two years ago and have since published two more - Mikayla the Wolf and Sam the Snake; all based on stories my boy created with his Papa. The books feature animals who share their names with other children (and at least one adult) battling rare diseases, and in the back of each book there are pages dedicated to these people and the conditions that affect their lives. Among the children featured is our other son, Jack, who shares the same immune deficiency that claimed Henry's life: x-linked agammaglobulinemia. The books also include "Teachable Topics" about the various locations and animals that are mentioned in each book to help parents further educate their children about some of the animals and places our Henry enjoyed learning about. The books are geared toward elementary aged children, and the reviews we've received from friends, family, and strangers - adults and children alike - have been excellent. Not just for the stories and the message behind them, but also for the quality of the books themselves. 

Our intent in publishing these books was threefold: to honor Henry, to help raise awareness for rare diseases, and to raise money for the organizations that help the children who are afflicted by them. Profits from the sales of these books will be donated to organizations like Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, and the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America, who work persistently every day to find cures and treatments for these kids and so many other children like them. 

What is breaking my heart is that after nearly two years of diligent book sales, we have yet to become profitable. We attend book fairs and vendor events at every opportunity and are blessed to be able to sell our books in several local retail outlets in addition to our own website. Yet each month we pay out upwards of $300+ dollars in storage, publishing, and vendor event costs. At $15 a book, we are still far from being able to hand a check over to these organizations in Henry's name and bring some closure to his death by helping others on his behalf. Vendor events are unpredictable, and we never know going into one exactly how many books will sell. Some days we are closer to zero, and some days we are closer to one hundred. Darrin and I sell the books ourselves, so our time is limited to the weekends he is not in school (he has returned to college for a masters degree in biotechnology in hopes of finding a cure for our son, Jack) as one of us has to stay home with Jack while the other is out selling books. It makes for slow going. 

This is where I am praying you can help. I'm wondering if you could do me the favor of sharing this blog post. Share it on your blog, via email, or with specific friends you know who are well connected or also have social media platforms on which to spread the message far and wide. We have approximately 4000 books left in stock between all three titles and every one of them would make a fantastic Christmas gift for the children on your gift list (or their teacher or daycare provider!) this holiday season. An inventory of 4000 books is nothing for large retailers, but for one local bereaved Mama and Papa, it might as well be the weight of the world.

Can you please help us find homes for these books this Christmas?

I told my husband I was determined to sell all of them by Christmas, but I can't make that happen without a little help from my friends... and their friends, too! Even if we could put a massive dent in the stock it would help us to have a more manageable inventory that we could then relocate to our home and thereby stop paying our monthly storage fees, eliminating one profit-eating expense. And if you're wondering, we need to sell about half of that inventory - approximately 2000 books - before we are profitable and can start sending checks out to these organizations in Henry's name. I sooo can not wait for that day to come!! 

We aren't in this to make money for ourselves, that was never our intent. We simply want to give something back to a medical community that has helped us navigate our way through hell and back (from the death of one child and the almost simultaneous diagnosis of the other), all in the name of one of the sweetest little blue-eyed blonde-haired boys you could ever know. 

These are our books

Here are some specifics about them

  • Title 1: Timmy the Goat: Spelunking Adventure 
  • Title 2: Mikayla the Wolf: Awakening at Yellowstone
  • Title 3: Sam the Snake: Refuge at Bureau Creek
  • Cost $15.00 each 
  • 8" x 8" in size
  • Fully illustrated in color by local (NE Wisconsin) sisters Sonja and Eve Funnell
  • Approximately 48 pages in length
  • Available for purchase at 
  • FREE SHIPPING on all US orders through December 31, 2012 to help move inventory!!
  • Gift wrapping is available if requested (note at payment, or message us at our Facebook page)
If you don't have a child in your life to buy for, consider purchasing one or more books to donate (there is a donation option listed at the website above). We can send donated books to you, to a donation location of your choice, or deliver them to Children's Hospital of Wisconsin for distribution to the various clinics and patients as hospital staff sees fit. 

Thank you so much for reading this, and for helping spread the word in any way possible. You will never know how much that means to us.

For blog posts about my grief process as a bereaved mother, Henry's life and death, and photos of our boy, please click {HERE}, or click the "Henry" label on the sidebar.

God bless you and your family, 

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Jenn Borjeson said...

What a beautiful story. My children are teenagers, so I am on my way to the site now to purchase a book to donate to a child. I will also share the link on my Facebook page, and I wish you the best of luck. Sending you my condolences at the loss of your precious son, and lots of hugs to your entire family. xo

Beth said...

I shared this on my facebook... and I also nominated you for a Liebster Award! More details here:

I enjoy your posts and know others would, too!


Beth @ Whiskey Tango

sue morris said...

I just wanted to say this is the first time I have visited your blog but, I would like to say how sorry I am for the loss of your beautiful son. I admire your strength and courage. In addition, I think the creation of these books is a wonderful way to honor his memory. May God give you and your family the strength to carry this burden of grief. Please know you are thought of and loved. I have no children of my own but, I could only imagine how painful it would be to lose a child.

Karen Hasheck said...

I was touched by your story and have ordered two books for my grandson. I have also posted on my blog at

and have included a link on my Saturday blogpost at (to be published Saturday November 17th).

SAS4Kids also helps kids and I am from Wisconsin so the cards I collect go to the Neenah and Milwaukee Children's Hospitals.

Many of my design team members also blogged about your cause and we have forwarded to our on line friends.

Good luck and best wishes, Karen

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