‘A heart warming picture book which encourages every child to believe in themselves and reach for their dreams.’ (Shine)
Justine Edward’s from Far North Queensland, Australia, recently came to the attention of Autism Daily Newscast when she tweeted about her newly published book, ‘Shine’ which is a book illustrated by Karl Gabriel, 7, who has Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Justine, a mother of three children who is also a teacher of ten years told us about her inspiration for the book.
“Karl, my illustrator, has an incredible light within him. When he smiles he literally lights up a room. I think he gets it from his mum who has the same amazing smile. Karl and his family have been my close friends for more than a decade. During this time Karl’s mum, Sanya has been very open in sharing their journey with Autism, a journey which has been both inspiring and heart breaking. I wrote Shine because I wanted to encourage Karl and others to see the light within him. To focus on his ability rather than his challenges.”
Sanya talks of her little boy Karl over on Justine’s website
“Diagnosed with Autism and a severe speech delay in expressive and receptive language at age 3, there was a time when we wondered if Karl would ever talk in sentences, if he would be able to follow instructions or answer a question. Just to hear him call for us as ‘Mum and Dad’ and to hear what he would sound like as a little boy was a dream come true.”
When Justine had completed the manuscript she sent it to Sanya, Karl’s mother. Justine tells of Sanya’s reaction.
“She rang me in tears because the words had touched her so much. I mentioned to her that I wanted Karl to illustrate the book. At that stage I had no idea how difficult drawing was for him. It took a lot of time and effort to create the images in the book. Sanya helped him to draw things which were familiar and related to the book. She then sent them to me and I chose the ones which I felt best ‘worked’ with each verse.”
Justine told Autism Daily Newscast that the book appeals to a very wide range of people, from young children to adults. She told that one reviewer bought the book for her young child and ended up reading it to her pre-teen. Justine further explained the appeal of ‘Shine’.
“Much like Dr Seuss, the words of ‘Shine’ resonate in the heart of people because they appeal to our universal need for love and acceptance. It is my hope that Shine will inspire every reader to believe in themselves and reach for their dreams.”
‘There is a light within you
It shines just like the sun
Warm and joyful and radiant
Surprising and vibrant and fun’
When Justine was asked if she was going to write any more books she responded that she has several manuscripts already completed and is in the process of finding a literary agent. “Writing a great book is only half the task. Getting the message out to people is the other half.”
Justine ended the interview by saying.
“I have been overwhelmed by the response to Shine. I want to thank everyone who has read it or reviewed it or told someone else about it because, without you, the message of Shine would not be heard.”