Ann Duquette is a children’s book author, educator, dog lover and grandmother to Riley (age 4) and Madalyn Duquette (age 2). Prior to her first grandchild’s birth, Ann was hiking in her home state of Maine with her Yorkshire terrier, Sam, and was impressed by the little dog’s stamina. “I swear that dog believed he was a Yellow Lab,” she says. Despite Sam’s determination to explore challenging trails on four little legs, Ann worried that an owl or hawk could easily pick him up and fly away. The thought stayed with her and Ann wondered if she could make an adventure story out of it someday.
When Riley was diagnosed with Zellweger Spectrum Disorder several months after his birth in May 2012, Ann began to reconsider her story. She thought a children’s book might be a great source to raise awareness about her grandson’s condition. Ann decided Riley and Sam would become central characters in her book. The story would happen on Halloween night, so that the pair could be dressed up and mistaken for real owls while trick-or-treating. It’s up to a determined Sam to get Riley safely back home.
Ann drafted the story and titled the book, Little Sam and Little Riley’s Big Halloween Adventure. She enlisted the help of a local illustrator named Jacquelyn Hersom and researched a web-based company (Outskirts Press) so that she could self-publish. The publishing process took time, but in the end, Ann was pleased with the results. Most especially, she loves the way Jacquelyn captured her grandson. “Riley has the brightest blue eyes, and they’re prominent on every page of the book,” she says. “He’s a baby in the story, but his gentle soul and sweet disposition shine through.”
Little Sam and Little Riley’s Big Halloween Adventure released in September 2015. Since then, Ann, who is an early childhood educator in Gardiner, Maine, has brought the book to school conferences along with a picture of Riley. For each book she sells, a portion of the proceeds go to the GFPD. “Most people who know me personally know about Riley’s condition. Friends, co-workers and the school community have been very generous,” she says.
This fall, Ann hopes to bring the book to local libraries to share it with new audiences, while also continuing to raise awareness about Zellweger Spectrum Disorder. If you or your family are interested in supporting the book, you can find Little Sam and Little Riley’s Big Halloween Adventure on amazon.com, bn.com, or outskirtspress.com.