North Riverside illustrator Kathleen Spale grew up with a
brother who is disabled and remembers waiting for him to come home
from the hospital when she was a child. So when a publisher asked
her to illustrate Samson's Tale, a children's book about a boy with
leukemia and his golden retriever Samson, Spale knew she could put
those memories to good use.
"I wanted to use one emotion per page to emphasize specific
events in the story," Spale says of her recent venture. "I
incorporated colors to set the mood and different seasons in each
section of the book. When Daniel is in the hospital and Samson is
at home, it's wintertime and the background colors are very spare.
Later as Daniel gets better and Samson helps support him in his
recovery, you see more greens and golds."
To find the right models, Spale looked locally, using a
co-worker and her son as inspiration for Daniel and his mother, and
a neighbor's golden retriever as Samson.
Samson anchors each image in the book, providing a bright focal
point of both color and emotion. Siblings and friends of a child
with a condition like Daniel's will easily relate to Spale's
expressive pictures of Samson and his concern, love and happiness
as he looks at Daniel.
"I like stories that have meaning," says Spale. "I knew people
could be helped by Samson's Tale, as well as entertained. It's
great that it connects on a deeper level and helps others to see
the world from a slightly different perspective. "
Proceeds from the book are being donated to Flashes of Hope, a
nonprofit organization that changes the way children with cancer
see themselves through the gift of photography and raises money for
pediatric cancer research.
Samson's Tale, written by Carla Mooney and illustrated by Spale,
is available from Story Pie Press and locally at the Magic Tree
Bookstore in Oak Park.
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