Hazel Grace and the Magic Blanket, by Don Callahan
Approximately two years ago I felt the need to give back; to do something ‘special’ for a very special friend. ‘Hazel Grace’ has a unique way of viewing the world, viewing life, and shining light wherever she goes – and I wanted to recognize her for it. I thought it would be fun to surprise her with an illustrated story book of her own adventures; stories she had shared of her many adventures – told in her own ‘Hazel Grace’ way. Once that seed had been planted in my mind I realized I had to write this book. What started as a friendly pat-on-the-back took on a life of its own. I realized it had to be kept a secret – what if I couldn’t pull this off? The story came easily to me – these are adventures told to me over the years from ‘Hazel Grace’ herself, now I had to put it to paper. Once the first few drafts were completed I needed to have it illustrated. Enter Samantha ‘Sam’ Franken – a highly-talented illustrator and artist in her own right, and good friends with ‘Hazel Grace’ and me. Sam was sworn to secrecy and rose to the challenge; working diligently on this ‘project’ in her spare time, balancing a busy home and work life. And the artwork was amazing! Wow! This ‘secret project’ kept growing and keeping it a secret was hard. Originally I had planned on printing a handful of copies; after all, it was meant to be a fun and personal Thank You. But Sam and I knew this had potential to be so much more. Not knowing how to take it to the big stage I wandered around, asked a lot of questions, and didn’t get too far. Until I met a very unique individual who has become a very close friend. In very short order he put me in contact with Lisa of One Thousand Trees publishing. She talked me off the ledge and guided me through the processes I needed to complete to make this project a reality. The books were printed and delivered on the same day ‘Hazel Grace’ left for another adventure. The secret needed to continue for another week! But upon her return, Sam and I were able to break the secret, and shine the spotlight on our amazing friend – even without her blanket, ‘Hazel Grace’ truly is magical!