“IT’S far from signing books I was reared!” says David King, who launched But Really… Adventures With A Difference in the company of family and friends at Youghal Library this month.
“The library is our second home for Fiona and I since our kids were babies,” says David.
“There was never a doubt that the book would be launched in the library. I am overwhelmed by the wonderful response from the people of Cork and how well the book has been received.
“I think it is available in every bookshop in East Cork!” adds David, , who hails from Dungarvan.
“And this week we heard Easons is stocking it. Corkonians have always welcomed me as one of their own.”
But Really… Adventures With A Difference features David’s five-year-old son, Adam, who has a rare genetic bone disease, osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), which is a brittle bone condition that causes stunted growth and makes him prone to fractures. Adam’s condition was diagnosed in utero months prior to his birth.
The family travelled to the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, which is one of Europe’s highest ranked research institutes where stem cell treatment was delivered.
“Adam has type three of OI,” says David. “It is the most severe form of OI compatible with life. The hallmark symptoms are small stature and brittle bones that fracture easily.”
The energetic boy with a lust for life, who has a giant-sized imagination, is generally a wheelchair user, but he is making great strides standing up and taking steps.
“Adam has had huge amounts of treatments and equipment in his short five years,” says David.
“Thanks to the amazing care he has received from CUMH, CUH, Temple Street Hospital and Enable Ireland Cork, he can stand and bear his own weight and even take some steps.
“We are so lucky that Adam has had access to the best professional health care consultants and hospital care in Ireland. He has had the best care in the world.”
Adam, who is a real whizz kid, was born to sign books.
“I’ll sign the book for you!” he says, eagerly grabbing my pen.
He is obviously the ideal PR person promoting the book, bringing it into all the classes in his school, explaining the story to the pupils.
What’s his favourite page in the book of which he is the star?
“I love going in the Bumbuleance ambulance,” says Adam.
“You get to watch DVDs on the way to hospital.”
Part of the proceeds of the book are being donated to Bumbleance — the Children’s National Ambulance Service of Ireland. They provide safe and comfortable transportation for Ireland’s patients as they travel between their homes and hospitals, hospices, treatment centres and respite centres nationwide.
“And I love the picture of hospital in the book where I get a Freddy Teddy from my nurse Marie,” says Adam.
“She puts the needle under my skin and she puts a plaster over it. She often gives me presents too!”
Adam, who lives in Ballymakeigh, East Cork, has two brothers, Danny, aged 10, Robert, aged seven, and a sister, Katie, aged eight, who attend Clonpriest National School, Gortrue and is hoping for another sister before Christmas.
“Our fifth child is on the way. We are suckers for punishment!” jokes David.
The life-like pictures in the book, so realistically depicted by Cork illustrator Jesse de la Cour, show bold adventurer Adam flying around magical lands on his throne.
Thrill-seeker Adam is transported to racing in the grand prix speeding ahead, snaking round the bends, leading the pack before finally passing in front of the chequered flag. He wows crowds in the cup final wearing his golden boots, and continuing his adventures, he races on the race track wearing his magic shorts, taking gold. With a flip of his flippers he dives and he dips visiting Davy’s Gold Locker 100 leagues under the sea and when the castle horn blows he hops leads the pack on his noble white steed.
“I am so happy to share Adam’s story with the world,” says David. “And it is great source of pride that people can have the joy of reading our book in the library.”
David, who works in education, added: “I set out to capture Adam’s spirit. He is a very inspirational little boy.
“It was a labour of love. When I met illustrator Jesse I knew she would capture Adam’s spirit, she would capture the human spirit and the wonder of East Cork. Jesse is incredibly talented,” says David.
“I knew straight away that we would make a great team. Becoming friends was a rewarding part of the process. Jesse lives in Germany and she says we might be far apart but we are near at heart.”
David says embracing difference in society is a very positive thing.
“Difference is a part of life. Life can be an adventure so difference can be an adventure too,” he says.
“We have hundreds of books at home, but I felt that there weren’t many stories there for children like mine. We are not unique. All those children have hopes, dreams, ambitions and imaginations,” says David.
“There are similar families all over Ireland and all over the world who have children with additional needs that have to go to hospital for treatments for acute and chronic conditions.
“Families go through battles every day that no-one ever sees. People need to hear and they want to hear these types of stories. Difference is part of our society and thankfully, a very acceptable part of our society.”
David is not a first-time author.
“I’ve written a text book, a thesis and now this book,” says David. “This book was a team endeavour.”
And it was a fun adventure too.
“Yes, an adventure in between dead lifts, squats, box jumps and supporting Killeagh GAA and Youghal United — it eventually got done within a year! “
His book sends a wonderful message to children, parents and family members living with additional needs that anything is possible. Just ask Adam!
But Really…. Adventures With A Difference by David King, illustrated by Jesse de la Cour is available in all good bookshops and on Amazon. €11.99. Part of the proceeds go to Bumbleance.