I've kept this a bit on the down-low, but I've been working with the Children's Tumor Foundation for about a year (with plans stretching back about 2) to create a book for little children who have been diagnosed with a common illness called Neurofibromatosis 1, or NF1, which affects about 1/2500 children. It's a neurological illness that can produce tumors on pretty much any nerve in the body.
Since the illness is often diagnosed around the age of kindergarten, the CTF needed a children's book aimed for these young children, so that they could start to understand what's happening, and to have conversations with their parents, teachers, and friends. It also gives representation to kids just like themselves, which every kid deserves.
This project meant a lot to me, especially as I have been dealing with the aftereffects of a neurological autoimmune disease for the last decade now. It was a big change from my last book, and a great challenge to work on a fictional treatment of a non-fiction concept. The visuals needed to be clear and simple, and the language straightforward. My storyboards and script were run past doctors and psychiatrists before I could proceed to begin drawing. It was such a great learning experience, an overwhelmingly positive one.
I worked to make the book very friendly and positive, and used coffee and watercolor to make the book. I hope it helps some kid out there, somewhere.
"Café Au Lait: A Story of NF1 and My Special Spots" Jessica Boehman, 2023. The Children's Tumor Foundation. Purchase here for your library, child, or classroom.