After seeing the way his friend’s son Josh bravely dealt with his hydrocephalus, Joseph Gray was inspired to write two children’s books featuring the adventures and abilities of children. He hopes the books will raise awareness about hydrocephalus and foster acceptance of all kids.
Joseph met four-year-old Josh and his twin brother Jake several years ago through their aunt. Josh was born with hydrocephalus and also has cerebral palsy and epilepsy. He got to know the family and participated with them at HA’s Detroit WALK to End Hydrocephalus.
He always marveled at Jake’s positive attitude, despite having endured eight brain surgeries, and how his brother always supported him through his ups and downs.
“Watching them grow up on social media in their first few months to a year really made me fall in love with the boys. Josh has a great spirit and he’s always working hard to do things that came naturally to other kids. He was such a happy baby and is such a fighter. He rolls with the punches and is always smiling,” Joseph said.
The first book, Jake and Josh in Canceling Christmas, takes the boys on a journey to put a stop to Christmas because they fear Josh’s condition is putting too much strain on their parents during the holiday season. Along the way, Josh learns from an adult with disabilities about what it means to grow up needing special care. Jake sits down with Grandma and she tells him about the Nativity and what Christmas is really about. The story also sees the parents, Emily and Jim, share moments of love and appreciation for their sons
“The book is really about how the kids, regardless if they have a disability or not, don’t have to worry about burdening their family. They realize that their family loves and appreciates them,” Joseph explained.
In the second book, Jake and Josh in The Blanket Rescue, Joseph wanted to highlight the important bond the brothers share and how they support each other. In the story, the twins team up with their friends Ella, Corrigan, and Milo to find Jake’s lost security blanket. Along the way, the children will each face a fear and find themselves in need of a friend to get through a difficult situation.
“The stories are really about how family and friends help one another get through difficult situations. Jake and Josh are just two little boys learning life lessons and having fun. Hydrocephalus plays a role in Josh’s life, but it does not define him. Learning to deal with the condition is just part of his development and Jake is helping him along that journey,” Joseph said.
Joseph is a journalist and had never written children’s books before, but after getting to know Josh and Jake, he wanted to try create a fun story that could bring more attention to hydrocephalus and teach children acceptance of others who may be different.
“My goal is to entertain with my stories while spreading awareness about hydrocephalus, a condition that affects many people but doesn’t gain much attention,” he said.
Learn more about Joseph on his Facebook page.