Eight-year-old Grace, a lover of books and reading, was the first child to sign up for a 2009 summer library camp run by librarian Jane Martellino, M.L.S. ’96, at the Consolidated School in New Fairfield, Conn. Grace never got the chance to attend. Doctors discovered she had a brain tumor and operated. A week after the surgery, she slipped into a coma for five weeks.
Martellino traveled to the New York City hospital each week to read to her would-be camper. Today, Grace is in recovery with a cookbook named for her. All Because of Grace, spearheaded by Martellino, was designed as a fundraising project to help with Grace’s medical expenses. Profits from the book go to the Yes! Grace Rocks Foundation.
In planning the book, Martellino thought it would be nice to include a handful of children’s book authors so she wrote to a few she had met through the years, explaining the project. She asked each to share a favorite recipe and provide a story explaining why the recipe was meaningful.
Within four weeks, Martellino received responses from more than 130 award-winning children’s book authors and illustrators. Support did not stop there. Publishing giant Scholastic donated $2,500 to help cover the cost of printing the book.
Grace still has a long way to go. She slipped into another coma that has hampered her recovery. She suffered nerve damage that impacts her speech and vision.
Through it all, books have kept the young patient’s spirits up. “We write stories together,” Martellino reports. “Grace has a gift for telling stories, which makes the project that much more perfect.”