Followers of Happydesigner will be very familiar with Max, the little boy with the big heart! Max was born with a condition called “achondroplasia”, which is a form of dwarfism.
Strong and Mighty Max was written by Kristina Gray, a mother of a child who was born with achondroplasia. Achondroplasia is a rare condition affecting 1 in 25,000 births. Children born with the condition have shorter upper limbs and a slightly larger head than their peers, and have normal intelligence. Strong and Mighty Max is just like any other child his age, apart from his shorter limbs. In the book Max explains how the doctor first told his parents that he was born with achondroplasia and what this actually means.
“My name is Max, and I am four years old. I am just like you, but I’m not as tall! The thing is, my bones aren’t the same as yours. This means it’s easier for me to play hide & seek, as I can fit into all the spaces bigger kids can’t! You’ll notice I look different, but inside I’m the same as you!”
Illustrated by the Happydesigner herself, Sarah-Leigh Walton, this book encourages children to celebrate that each one of us is unique and different in some way. It encourages people to not focus on outward appearances, but to look at the heart. We can all dream big, and, just like Max, your life can be a great adventure.
Aimed at 0-7 year olds, Strong and Mighty Max will particularly appeal to families affected by rare genetic conditions, and specifically a form of dwarfism. The exciting part is, there’s been a Strong and Mighty update to the book!
Strong and Mighty Max 2
The revised edition of Strong and Mighty Max features a teacher called Katy, who also has achondroplasia. She pops up throughout the new edition to encourage the reader to think positively about themselves and about the characters in the story. Katy believes that education is key, and she explains that she also has daily struggles, such as trying to reach tall locks on bathroom doors, but she uses creativity and some smart thinking to overcome these problems.
The book works alongside the Strong and Mighty Max website, where Katy has helped to create the “Learn” section. This area gives children and adults role-play ideas and has downloadable classroom activity sheets for classroom learning. At the end of the revised edition of Strong and Mighty Max, you’ll find a learning support section, as well as a discussion area that gives children the chance to ask themselves questions that are raised in the story. The aim is to educate children about achondroplasia, and to help them to see that people who have the condition are the same as them, only a little smaller! It will help them to realise that there’s nothing to be worried about, and it helps them to feel comfortable around people who may seem different from them. It also helps them to think about how they can help people who may need it, such as offering to get something down from a high shelf.
Who is Max?
The lead character in the story, Max, is based on Kristina’s son Samuel, who was born with a rare condition, achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism. When Samuel was born, Kristina quickly learnt that his biggest challenge in life would be other people’s perceptions of him based on presentations of dwarfism in the media and culture. As a result of this she decided to write a children’s story that would help to educate his peers about his condition and provide a positive role model for children born with rare conditions.
Working in Schools
Kristina Gray takes bookings throughout the year for school visits. She is happy to take a whole primary school assembly and or work with classes to discuss themes related to differences and disabilities. It is also an excellent opportunity for pupils to interview an author and learn what is involved with writing and publishing a story. Kristina also shares what motivated her to write a children’s story. Themes of kindness, differences, disabilities and respecting one another are covered. You can head to the website to find out more about booking Kristina to talk in your school. The website is also chock-full of useful videos and stories that cover achondroplasia and the differences between all kinds of humans. It’s a very uplifting site to visit, and a great one to use if you’re teaching your child (or children in schools, youth clubs etc) about acceptance, kindness and disabilities.
The revised Strong and Mighty Max is currently being printed and will be available very soon!
Life will always be a great adventure for Max.
YOU CAN BUY YOUR COPY OF STRONG AND MIGHTY MAX 1 HERE: