Student’s new book has a main character with a disability


Gwen Treasure

Illustrations from Treaure’s book, “Flora and the Festival of Fairies”. The fairy is the main character in the book and the drawing are done by Treasure’s sister. Picture provided by Gwen Treaure (12).

Sophia Spicuzza, Staff Reporter

All around our community lie aspiring young authors writing touching pieces that inspire others. Many children’s books include characters who can run, jump, and accomplish everyday tasks without help. However, kids who can’t do these things or need a little extra help walking, running, and playing games are often left out of the narrative. Only 3.4% of all children’s literature includes the main character with a disability; whereas over 3 million children in America have a disability, according to an article written in March of 2021.

Gwen Treasure (12), who possesses a love for writing, has seen this pressing issue for equality in children’s books for many years now. Treasure is in the process of writing a children’s book to bring more representation to children with disabilities. Treasure’s inspiration comes from her cousin who was born with a muscular disability called Congenital Hypotonia. This disability causes poor muscle tone, from motor skills, to speech and swallowing. Treasure’s cousin faces difficulties in her own life such as needing assistance to walk upstairs, and is in need of a children’s book that represents her.

“She’s grown up with this, and it’s been part of her for her entire life,” Treasure said. “Since I am a writer, she has always talked to me about writing something for kids with disabilities.”

The story helps to advocate for children with disabilities, and allows them to see themselves as characters, just as able bodied kids do. The story centers around a character that children can fall in love with and is for everyone, not just kids with disabilities. The main character faces all the challenges that kids with disabilities face. Along with the physical challenges children might endure, the book also includes the emotions these kids might find hard to grasp. The story makes having a disability seem not so scary. Also teaching kids without disabilities that those who have them are not so different from themselves.

“The story is about a fairy with one wing,” Treasure said. “She is traveling to a festival, and she is a little nervous. She’s scared and intimidated by all the other fairies there because she has one wing. I really want to show kids that even if you are different in any way you are still capable and strong, and you can do anything you set your mind to.”

Treasure’s passion for writing has been prominent for many years now. She has aspirations to be an author but never thought she would start with a children’s book. She participates in the Spark! Business Incubator, which is a program through Parkway Schools that allows students to connect with Parkway alumni. These alumni guide students to become entrepreneurs and launch their own business endeavors. Through Spark! Business Incubator Treasure can explore her dream of becoming an author, while obtaining the skills and experience to do so from her teacher Xantha Meyer and mentor Shaniqua Jones.

“I’ve had so many amazing mentors but Shaniqua Jones really helped me get started and get out of my creative rut. She understood what I needed to hear and her focus on empowering women to reach for the stars made a huge impact,” Treasure said. “Writing a children’s book is something I have been wanting to do for a while, and through Spark! I have learned how to write my book and market it,” Treasure said. “I am using social media: Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok to get the word out. My family has been super supportive. My sister, the illustrator, and my cousin have been very helpful.”

The program allows Treasure to get a feel of what it is like to be an author and presents the environment to express her creativity while also learning about the writing process. This experience has made Treasure want to pursue writing even more than before.

“I do want to write other books,” Treasure said. “I hadn’t thought about children’s books until very recently; this is more of a starting point for me. It has been a huge learning curve because the stuff that I have written before is for a completely different audience.”

The process of writing a book is not simple. Treasure pours copious amounts of time and dedications into this book and has been for six months now. She plans to publish in April, although the logistics of this timeline are not set in stone.

“I kinda just sat down and wrote,” Treasure said. “When I had the first draft down, I had other people go through it, read it, and edit everything that needed to be edited. We might be a little off in our original estimates for the publishing date. I am hoping to publish in April but it might be a little later than that.”

While Treasure writes, her 19-year-old sister Ruby Treasure is the illustrator. They are producing this book together, which has been a dream for both of them. Treasure works closely with her sister, but still faces challenges throughout the writing process.

“She has been drawing since she was very little, and we have talked on and off about writing a book together,” Treasure said. “This project is perfect, she’s right there I’m right here, and this story has been a lot of collaboration. It’s interesting to see how the pictures work with the words, and sometimes she will say that this picture doesn’t go with the words, so I’ll have to change a whole paragraph.”

Treasure’s main goal for the book is to spread awareness and provide the world with an important message. She wants individuals of all ages, especially children with disabilities to know that they are not alone, and they don’t have to struggle alone. She hopes that through her work, she can inspire others while bringing a smile to their face.

“Sometimes it can be hard for children and people to see their worth when they are struggling with something they feel like no one else is,’’ Treasure said. “By creating this story and characters, I hope that kids can see that they can do whatever they set their minds to. And that they are capable, strong, and have bright futures.”

Make sure to look out for “Flora and the Festival of Fairies” on in the next coming months!