Princess Lily Earns her Beads is an amazing, inspirational story, written by Sarah Bankuti, to help her young daughter as she battles cancer. The story is accompanied by beautiful, whimsical illustrations by Kristina Dutton.
In Canada, when a young child undergoes complex medical treatments, they are given “bravery beads” for each of the different procedures they have to endure. This is a story of how a Princess, named Lily, earns these bravery beads as she fights a very difficult illness.
The story begins with Princess Lily engaging in her favourite activity: swimming in the ocean with her friends. One day, Lily wakes up feeling sick and dizzy. The King and Queen ask their royal wizards for help, but none of the potions they try work and Lily remains ill.
Shortly after, a fairy comes to the castle and brings word of an enchanted forest with healers who might be able to care for Princess Lily. The King and Queen take Princess Lily to the forest where she meets Lyn Healer who agrees to help them.
Lyn begins by asking Princess Lily to trust her and by showing Lily a necklace with a bravery bead on it. Lyn tells Lily to wear it when she feels scared. Lyn says that each time Lily is brave a new bead will appear.
Throughout her journey, Princess Lily earns new beads for each challenge she faces along the way. First, she receives a bead following a scary encounter with a loud giant (meant to represent an MRI machine), who shakes the forest around her. Lily is instructed to stay as still as possible as the giant passes. New beads also appear on Lily’s necklace after Lyn puts medicine in Lily’s arm and after Lily has a port put in her chest for chemotherapy medicine.
After a long series of treatments, Princess Lily is finally strong enough to return home to her mother and father. The story ends with Princess Lily at home; holding on to her necklace while dreaming of the day she will be strong enough to swim again in the ocean with her friends.
To say I love this book is an understatement. I admire the strength, creativity, and compassion Sarah Bankuti had while writing this book for her daughter. I believe it is essential that children facing serious ilnesses be represented in children’s literature, so sick children can identify with the characters and see similarities in their own journeys. Princess Lily Earns her Beads does a wonderful job of taking a difficult topic and making it less intimidating by adding elements of fantasy and magic.
I highly recommend this book, not only for children undergoing complex medical treatments, but for all children, to help build empathy for their peers, neighbours, and family members who have to suffer through a life changing illness.
This book can be purchased following the Amazon link below.
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