ASHLEY HOLDEN HAMMOND
A LITTLE BOOK ABOUT A FRIEND WITH AUTISM
"Nessie and Her Tisms"
Denise Sullivan Near is a Children's book author who turns her first-hand experience with her sweet little girl into a fun, very simply written, educational picture book. Through "Nessie and Her Tisms," Denise teaches young children about some of the unique behaviors of children on the spectrum by nurturing their natural curiosity.
In December 2016, a few days before Christmas, Denise's daughter Harper was diagnosed with Autism. Harper was just two years old at the time. In that moment, as a million questions and fears raced through her mind, one thought in particular came to the forefront of all the others; she just wanted people, other children especially, to understand her daughter. That thought resonated with her as the days, weeks, and months passed. And soon, that thought became a mission and that mission became this book, "Nessie and Her Tisms.
AN ILLUSTRATED PROCESS
As with any creative venture, there are endless ways to go about creating a book. This process begins simply. Starting with a mockup of the book is helpful in figuring out the sequence of the illustrations.
I did the first book mockup using index cards because it was way easier for me to picture the book including the cover and title page. I printed out the manuscript and cut out the sections and used double-sided tape to add them to the "pages" in order.
This method allowed me to group paragraphs in a way that made sense and helped decide on the focus illustration for each page.
FROM SKETCH TO HAND-PAINTED ILLUSTRATION
Telling Nessie's story through visual images was a labor of love! From rough sketch to final hand-painted page, each illustration shows careful attention to detail in a way that is easy for adults but especially children to comprehend.
Learning about autism and a few of the behaviors that the child in the story shares can help bring understanding and compassion to those around us. Working closely with the author to make sure the visual interpretation in the illustrations matched her vision for the book was top priority.
My absolute favorite part of this project has been hearing from the children and parents who read the book. The stories are incredible and I just love reading them and seeing the faces of those inspired by Nessie's "can do" attitude!