“Different Just Like You” is a children’s book written by Spring Hill Author Christy Perdue, illustrated by Haley Brabant, and featuring the written contributions of Amaya Perdue. This is a book about differences and acceptance. It now boasts more than 30 5-star reviews on Amazon and reigned for weeks as the #1 new release in books on disabilities. At the heart of this colorful, affirming picture book is a second and equally valuable message about the great and binding love between mothers and daughters.
“My stepdaughter is 11 years old and has cerebral palsy. Last year she told me she wanted to be normal just for a day so she could see what it was like,” said Perdue of her stepdaughter, Amaya Perdue. “She broke my heart! I told her everyone is different from everybody else and that’s what makes us special. We wrote a book about it and I would love to share it with the community. My 21-year-old daughter is the illustrator and we would be honored to read it to local students if schools would be interested in having us.”
Perdue says that she has been deeply touched by her stepdaughter’s introspective nature; thus motivating the longtime penwoman to share her story. She stated, “She has cerebral palsy and is starting to notice she does things differently than most kids in her grade. She can’t climb like they can, can’t ride a bike, and can’t run in gym class. I can’t change the fact that she has cerebral palsy, but I can try to let her know that she’s not alone. I told Amaya that the kids she thinks are normal also have things that make them different as well. We talked about the differences all people have and how it’s a good thing because it makes us who we are. I explained that even though she can’t do some activities, as well as others, can, she has certain skills that other kids don’t. It made her face light up. I wanted her to remember that message and I wanted to share it with other kids, too, so I decided to turn it into a children’s book.”
In writing this book, Perdue turned to her daughter for words of encouragement and inspiration. “I asked Amaya what message she wanted me to include in the book to other kids. She wanted to make sure I let them know to be kind, even to kids that are different from them. And to remind them that being different is a good thing and to embrace it. To anyone who doesn’t know Amaya, I would tell them she is kind-hearted, determined, passionate, and beautiful inside and out. She puts other people first and loves her family and pets. She likes to draw, paint, and sing. Rihanna is her favorite singer!” stated Perdue.
Perdue also values the artistic contributions of her daughter to the finished product, a vividly illustrated 28-page work of art. Perdue shared, “My daughter Haley Brabant is 21 and has loved art since she was little. She’s got natural talent and is a self-taught artist who has spent the last five years really honing her skills. This book wasn’t the first one she’s illustrated for me. We make a great team and have published other books together. The most recent being ‘Growing Up with Grandparents’ and ‘Fletcher the Farting Ferret.’ As soon as I write a new book, I share it with Haley and she says, ‘When do I need to get it done?’. I love to write and she loves to draw, so it works out perfectly for us both! The book for Amaya was her favorite one to illustrate and she really knocked this one out of the park. The illustrations are phenomenal, although I might be a little biased.”
Indeed, creativity seems to run rampant in the Perdue family, with mom Christy ranking as the author of more than 20 books. She stated, “I’ve loved to write ever since I was able. I went to college to be a teacher because I happen to love children, too, so writing children’s books just made sense. The first book I published was out of necessity. About 8 years ago I tried to complete a last will and testament and I found it to be depressing. It was a document stating who gets my things when I die and I wanted to make something more comprehensive and more meaningful than that. So, I created a guided memoir and published it in 2014. From there, I started writing children’s books, all of them with a positive message and a happy ending. I think it’s so important for children to read and to have something uplifting and informative to take away.”
Perdue’s latest release has made a difference in the life of one of her favorite readers. “This book has made Amaya feel special. It has helped her spread her message and has made her proud to be able to share it with so many people,” she said. “I have read the reviews to her and her face just lights up with each new one. Her being different has made a difference, not only for kids with disabilities but for kids of all abilities. And based on some of the reviews, it’s made a difference for some adults as well.”
Perdue hopes that the success of this labor of love will make a difference in many more lives. “When people read ‘Different Just Like You,’ adults and children alike, I want them to realize that their words and actions matter. Kindness matters. Inclusion and acceptance matter,” she said. “Everyone has something that makes them feel different than everybody else. Everyone has insecurities and instead of worrying about others’ differences, we need to accept people for who they are and recognize that’s what makes them special. What a boring place this would be if we were exactly the same.”
“Different Just Like You” is currently available on Amazon, at Barnes and Noble, and in Hernando County Libraries.
Community reporter Megan Hussey would like to dedicate this Mother’s Day edition of Show Us Your Sunshine to the Sunshine of her life, her dear departed mother Frances Hussey.