The Making of White Bear

What started out as an idea for a short story about a little girl who spends a lot of time in the hospital has evolved into a vision: A virtual world for kids with special needs, featuring White Bear, a stuffed animal whose purpose in life is taking care of child with life threatening illnesses. White Bear is smart, kind and available. He is always present for every IV, every medical procedure, every operation, and every doctor’s visit. He is available to cuddle at night and for good times, too.  White Bear is created for young readers, particularly chronically ill children, their siblings, family and friends.

White Bear is a family affair, for many reasons, which you can read about in his first book, White Bear’s Big Adventure. For a while, we talked about writing a stand-alone story for and about Angel and White Bear.  We always knew it would be a children’s book, one that other seriously ill children could relate to. As the story developed, my sister Lisa Barriera, Angel’s mother, took pictures of White Bear in his usual surroundings, the hospital.  Originally we were going to use her pictures in the book.  When we were finalizing the layout, we realized that though the pictures were as authentic as one could get, they didn’t quite tell the story we wanted to tell. As luck would have it, we were able to hire a very talented professional children’s illustrator, Jeanine Henning, to bring White Bear to life.

 

Jeanine’s rough draft of Angel and White Bear in a hospital bed

 

Jeanine captures the essence of their love but more importantly White Bear’s wisdom.

 
 

Watching White Bear come alive left us with no doubt that White Bear could be a relatable means of support for all seriously ill children.

We are lucky enough to live in a time when most kids are healthy. Polio, Small Pox, Typhoid, Whooping Cough and Measles are almost or completely eradicated in our lifetime. Most children never have to see the inside of a hospital for themselves or visit with someone who has to go through chemotherapy, dialysis or organ transplant. But there are children that, through no fault of their own, must face what is unthinkable to most. In spite of the turmoil of emotions they feel dealing with illness, adversity and setbacks, they have a zest for life. 

Yet, this population of kids does not have what others take for granted. They do not have a series of books written about and for kids like them.  Sure, there are books about visits to the doctor, breaking legs, having new siblings, and even for adoption, but these do not represent the needs of kids who are chronically, seriously or terminally ill.

These special kids deserve books that they and their siblings can relate to.  We are planning a series of books that asks and answers questions that sick children can relate to so that they don’t feel so alone. Illness and hospitals will be matter of fact locations in this series, not special events.

More importantly, we plan to make White Bear available via White Bear’s World, an ambitious project that is underway providing a world of resources for families with Special Needs.  Keep watching to follow our progress, step by step and visit us at www.whitebearsworld.com.

White Bear's Big Adventure - (an organ transplant story)  is now available


 

Available in paperback and e-book on Amazon

"White Bear's Adventures is a beautifully written and conceived book for an important audience--children who are sick and/or in hospitals, as well as for their brothers and sisters and cousins and friends. White Bear helps make the hospital a friendly place, and children will recognize him immediately as a smart and fun-loving ally. The illustrations are strong and bold. The book succeeds in being entertaining, informing, and reassuring all at the same time. I couldn't recommend this more highly".

Sharman Apt Russell, winner of 2016 John Burroughs Medal, author of the YA Teresa of the New World

About the Author

 
 

It all started with a course in Children's Lit...

Marie Cheine is a mother, grandmother and aunt. She has a Master’s Degree in Literature and Writing from Western New Mexico University. She lives in Tampa, Florida with three cats and one dog. She has worked as an administrator in the Tampa Bay Adult Congenital Heart Clinic for over twenty years, is a lyricist and freelance writer for Harmonic Factory. You can read her personal blog on various topics at MarushkasPlace.com or follow her at MarieCheine.com. This is her first children’s book.