Military wife and children’s book author Cheryl D. James tells the tale of young character Leah, as she celebrates Thanksgiving without her father due to his service in the military in her new children’s book, “Leah’s Treasure Book.” Main character Leah keeps a sketchbook of the images and drawings that take place during the holiday. With the help of her mother, Leah turns the sketches into a memento to give her father for Christmas when he comes home from an eight-month cruise.
Living in Hampton Roads, James is in a familiar place surrounded by people living in the same military life style. According to Globalsecurity.org, Hampton Roads has the largest concentration of naval bases. The Navy owns 36,000 acres in the area. Approximately 118,300 residents of Hampton Roads are dependents of the military.
Exposed to the military life for 30 years while raising two sons, James understands the hardships that come along with loving someone serving our country. “I hope that people enjoy it and that it gives people a positive view of the military families,” James said.
James came up with the story in her class at the Institute of Children’s Literature. It began as a short story. “I made a few revisions and then it came to me that this would make a good book,” James said.
“The perspective is very gentle and simple. [Leah’s Treasure Book] is about the family and friendships in the military. [Being in the military] is a life of many hardships but there is also an atmosphere of friendship because everyone is going through the same thing,” said James. She hopes the book gives children an opportunity to discuss their feelings about the life their family lives and whether they are feelings of joy or longing.
The book aims to paint a picture of military life children face growing up with a parent who is deployed often. Jones describes that she “wanted to give some respect and some awareness of how much the families contribute to everything.” Around Thanksgiving, Leah injures her knee and can’t help her mother cook Thanksgiving dinner. Leah’s brother and sister have to pitch in to help their mom because Leah’s father is out to sea.
“I hope that people enjoy it and that it gives people a positive view of the military families,” James said. The book is on sale at amazon.com. A select number was put on display at Heaven & Earth. James plans to increase the number of locations that the book is displayed and display the book on shelves in stores where military families can purchase it.
By: Megan Jefferson