The author of "Princess Sophia's Gifts" contacted me not too long ago about illustrations to place in an article her local newspaper wanted to feature. The article was to be based around her work, her daughter Sonia, and the book. I'm very excited to share this article with you! It's full of motivation, hope, and unconditional love. A must read for inspiration!
A princess' gifts
Local mother, author shares daughter's story
Diane Hovey's "Princess Sophia's Gifts" is a tale that encompasses aspects of what it means to be human: joy, tragedy, acceptance and perseverance.
Diane, 50, lives in Maplewood with her husband and three children. Their youngest daughter, Sonia, was the inspiration for Diane's children's fairy tale, "Princess Sophia's Gifts."
When Sonia was only 14 months old, a kernel of food became lodged in one of her lungs and the family was unaware of its presence, Diane says. When Sonia laid down to go to sleep on that night over 20 years ago, the kernel worked its way up and blocked her airway. When paramedics arrived, Sonia had no vital signs. It took nearly 25 minutes to resuscitate her. As a result, she is very physically limited.
Diane wrote a children's story about 15 years ago as a way to explain Sonia's disability to her peers.
"It sort of stemmed from sitting at the games with our older kids - a baseball game or soccer game or whatever - and the little kids would come up and say 'What's the matter with her?' or 'Why?'" she recalls. "You could see all of the parents straining to hear the answer. What I learned to do was answer the little kids' (questions), adding in enough information to satisfy the curious adults."
Diane's explanations of her daughter's disability later evolved into a fairy tale that Sonia's elementary school classmates could readily understand. Diane says she'd come in and read the unpublished story to Sonia's classmates from first to fifth grade as a way to introduce them to her daughter, and her disability.
"The point of that was to see Sonia and not just her disability," she says.
Diane added that some of Sonia's teachers were apprehensive, or maybe even a little scared, of teaching a child with such severe limitations. But that all changed after they got to know Sonia.
"At the end of the year, every single teacher made a comment about how it was one of their best years of teaching; how incredible it was for the class, and how much the students learned," she says.
The story, in many ways, mirrors Sonia's life and the people she's met along the way. Diane says that some of the characters in the book are composites of the "wise people" they have met during life's journey.
"The people who are willing to be with you, those are the important people," Diane says. "The ones who will celebrate with you, listen to your story and not be afraid of it."
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