This Kickstarter is to publish an illustrated book that helps grieving children, and their family and friends. It's not something people like to think or talk about, but sometimes parents of small children die. In fact, 1 in 29 children is bereaved of a parent or sibling - that’s one child in every average class in the UK (Child Bereavement UK). That loss fundamentally changes everything about the child's life, at the time and in the future. It's horrific to contemplate, but it happens - for that reason, please read on.
To live through such a shock and grow up healthy and happy, children who lose a parent need specific support and love. Often, close families, who are themselves grieving, want resources for their family. Many great charities and hospices work to support children who've lost their parent, and some resources are available. But there are only a few picture books for small children that cover death and grief, and that help a small child and their family adjust to their new life. The ones out there are helpful and beautiful, but there just aren't many. Please support this project to bring a vital resource for grieving children into being - an illustrated book, a story of family and love and hope in a time of huge sadness.
The story is about Davey, a small boy whose dad dies. When he does, he leaves Davey a magic carpet - every thread woven together from memories they made when he was alive. The magic carpet takes Davey and the little reader off on various adventures, to the beach or a campsite, as Davey struggles to understand this new world without his dad. Together Davey and the carpet learn not to be afraid, to explore, to enjoy the things they used to, and to be hopeful about the future. They find this strength as they realise they're held up by memories of Davey's dad. I hope it will help grieving families as they adjust to their new normal.
I'm inviting financial pledges (min. £3, max. £10k) from interested backers to raise £10,000 to illustrate and print 1,000 children's books. The book focuses on grief and the death of a parent, and uses the story of a magic carpet given by a dad to his son to help explain memories and grief to small children. Despite this theme, the book is uplifting and hopeful, and will be loved by all small children, whatever their situation. The aim for this project is to 'get the book out there': providing a valuable resource for young children and their families, as well as raising some funding for The Brain Tumour Charity. If more than 1,000 books are distributed, the future business model would allow us to build on this initial investment and fairly easily produce variations to the original book.
The book will be:
- a picture book aimed at 4-7 year olds, beautifully illustrated by my talented friend Claire - the image you see on this site is an early sketch of the kind you will see in the book.
- paperback and 22 x 22 cm² square, with 12 double page spreads.
- printed on FSC and/or recycled paper with chlorine-free ink.
- completed through this Kickstarter project, and the first 1,000 books printed then stored at our houses and distributed from there.
- available to order online, by anyone interested, costing £8, then posted to UK addresses by us. The first 1,000 will cost £4.50 each to produce and send, and 'profits' will go to The Brain Tumour Charity.
- it will be marketed with help from a friend in publishing and through major bereavement and children's charities.
- It will be a beautiful story for grieving children themselves, for school or play-friends of theirs, but also for any small child. Through Davey and his really magic carpet, they will all discover a story of family ties and building memories together, irrespective of their own life experiences.
We know this project will be done well and is worth funding because:
- Claire has small children herself and knows what interests and captivates them - she will bring that into her illustrations.
- Caroline's husband died in December 2014 and she will bring through what she's experienced about grief, and tap into the experiences of an amazing network of young widows and widowers through WAY Widowed and Young.
- Both Claire and Caroline are professional and motivated, and are dedicated to this project. If the funding comes through, the illustrations will be Claire's full-time focus over the summer.
- Caroline has experience of writing and publishing after completing a book about sustainability and India on her return from 3 years in Delhi.
- Caroline is taking guidance from another author of a book for bereaved children and is in touch with relevant charities to have them feed into the project.
- Before being finalised the book will be reviewed by a team of small children, with and without two parents, and their feedback incorporated into the final version.
- We hope to be able to invite comments on the first draft from interested backers, if we are able to handle this administratively.
The Kickstarter funds will cover:
- Claire's work to illustrate the full book
- type-setting and producing the final digital files
- small presents for the team of 6 year old reviewers and their parents
- an initial print run of 1,000 books
What happens beyond the Kickstarter project?
If further print runs are needed, we will use the original digital files and have re-prints done to post out. My aim is for profits from future print runs to be given to The Brain Tumour Charity which pioneers research into adult and childhood brain tumours. Currently, brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of adults under 40, and yet less than 1% of UK cancer research funding goes to fighting them. Caroline's husband was diagnosed with a brain tumour at just 32 years old.
If we are over-funded, we will explore which is more feasible from: completing another book where the main characters are a small girl and her mother (or other family members if people told us this would be helpful); translating into Spanish or French (Caroline lived abroad previously and has already been told this would be valuable by her friends in Europe); paying for a further print run and reducing the cost of the book going forward, and/or donating more money to The Brain Tumour Charity or a charity supporting bereavement in children.
And finally, to whet your appetite, an extract from the book:
Davey didn’t know how magic carpets were made. ‘How did Daddy make that for me?’ he asked. ‘It was very clever Davey’ said Mummy. ‘He took every memory of you doing something together and turned each one into a magic thread. They’re all different colours, and, look, some are thick and some are thin, because you made those memories doing different things. Some are from our home with Daddy, some on holiday, some playing outside. Some are really silly and some really exciting. Then Daddy wove all the threads together to make your magic carpet. Every time you’ve done something with Daddy, it's in the magic carpet – that’s why it’s so special’.
Risks and challenges
Risk: that an unexpected cost arises during the book production process.
How we address: I have spoken to people who have self-published and believe I've covered everything off, but if an unexpected cost arises I feel I will be able to cover it from my own savings. I really want this to happen - my family just won't get Christmas presents this year!
Risk: we cannot send out the initial set of ordered books fast enough
How we address: we will rope in a hugely supportive network of family and friends to help, and hope that buyers will also be patient.
Risk: that the project takes longer than we expect
How we address: we have what we believe is a realistic timeline including first, second and third drafts, review time, print time and postage. If the funding comes through, Claire will work full-time on the book over the summer. Where we can't speed up the process, we will have to be patient - but we have a specific personal deadline of 7th December in mind and a lot of motivation to have it available and being posted by then.
Risk: the book isn't of interest to children
How we address: we have built in review times with children and parents of small children, as well as input from bereavement charities and a grief specialist, and will take all their input on board before finalising the book.
Risk: one of us has to drop out of the project before it is finished
How we address: we do not expect this to happen, however the story is already written and illustrative style already chosen, so, if needbe, a new project manager or new illustrator could be found to complete the project.
- (24 days)