Strong and Mighty Max Update

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.

children's illustrator

“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.

strong and mighty maxAimed 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.children's illustrator

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.

children's illustration

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.



A few of my previous clients

Design against furSt Ives Memory BayEden ProjectSkyRespect for animalsPets at HomeSt Moritz Hotel

  • "These posters and flyers are perfect”
    - Julia G, Manager at the Truro branch of Pets at Home

  • "i really like ur books my mommy reads them 2 me all the time ur really good at drawling and i want 2 be like u when i grow up :-)"  Natassia Flegal (hd fan)

  • "You do have a very positive feel about everything you do. I do wish you continued success in all your work. All the best, SimonSimon James, Famous Children’s Book Illustrator

  • "Sarah is quality.  Not just her design but she is a pleasure to work with."
    - Bob Harper, Portfolio Marketing

  • "Yes!!!! Wow…Love it!!! ..thanks so much, I absolutely the character design you have done for us!!! xx” Lisa Dell, Cornish Firewood

  • "Thank you so much Sarah! What a fantastic set of illustrations for the first in our series of children’s books. We can’t wait to work with you on the second book!" Jane Archer-Wilms & Marlies Veenhof

  • Sarah is professional, friendly and very knowledgeable, she delivered 100% with a new logo that was spot on! We can't recommend her enough!” - Lucy @ Get Active

  • Sarah is an extremely talented designer and illustrator. She has that rare gift of being able to find something in your business or character that you never knew existed" Craig Green

  • "Sarah understood what I was looking for and produced a fantastic logo for me.  She is very approachable and friendly – I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her” Katie Jarvis, Fancy Prints

  • “Logos received with a BIG thanks, Basically I love them all” 
    Helen Chuah, Giggling Baby Products

  • "The logos are absolutely fantastic, they are spot on brief and are even better than we imagined!Paolo Pini, Step Up To Languages

  • "Our brand wouldn't be the same without her on-going input. Just fab xx”
    - Justine Rogers, Dainty Dizzy

  • Got home tonight and the books had arrived. Absolutely love them. My girlfriend loves your illustrations.” - Andrew Jeffery: 'Wolfboy Book'

  • "I hope my recommendation will persuade you to use Sarah! I cannot fault her, for her professionalism, enthusiasm and talent." - Michelle Hawkins, Director: The Flying DoDo

  • "WOW! Love it! I'm so happy with what you've produced- and with so little input from me. FANTASTIC!!! THANK YOU” - Darren Pascoe: 'Red Rabbit Book'

  • "It won’t be a struggle working with Sarah, it’ll be a pleasure. Can’t recommend enough”
    - Richard Quick

  • "Sarah provided us with an extremely friendly courteous and efficient service and injected an energy into the project, that only Sarah could" Discovery Leisure

  • "I am absolutely THRILLED TO BITS with your illustrations! THEY ARE MAGNIFICENT!”
    - Susanna Jennicrai, Book Author

  • "She has a keen eye for the quirky detail, she is punctual and a joy to work with. I simply cannot praise her enough.” - Clickety Books

  • “I was so nervous ringing you as i've never done anything like this before, but you were so friendly and put me completely at ease.” - Donna Purvis