Hanna’s Letter

17 August 2016

Hanna’s Letter
by Darren Ulmer
Published by DW Ulmer Publishing
Review by Leslie Vermeer
$9.95 978-0-99502421-2

It’s said that books are a way to start a social conversation. That’s certainly the case for Darren Ulmer, author of the children’s book Hanna’s Letter, which follows a child living through her parent’s serious illness. Ulmer wrote the book to give families a resource to talk about and prepare for the effects of life-threatening illnesses.

When Hanna finds out that her father has throat cancer, her world turns upside down. She feels sad and helpless until she realizes there’s one person who can help: Santa Claus. Her selfless letter to Santa, which forms the centre of the book, represents an important step in her journey, and her family’s, through a cancer diagnosis and recovery. We see Hanna’s fear, her wistfulness, and ultimately her hope as the wish expressed in her letter comes true.

Beautifully illustrated by Diane Lucas, Hanna’s Letter is a compassionate story based on real life. Saskatoon-based writer and speaker Ulmer is himself a cancer survivor, and the book is modelled on his family’s experience. “This was a very personal story, my story,“ he says, but he fictionalized it to help others going through similar experiences.

And even though the book was published just a few months ago, Hanna’s Letter is already poised to make a difference in kids’ lives. SunLife Financial has donated copies of the book to every Ronald McDonald House across Canada. Ulmer says, ”I thought it would be great to get it into the hands of families going through the same thing. I thought about where and how I would reach those families, and it simply made sense to me that Ronald MacDonald House would be a great place to start.“

Hanna’s Letter is a book for kids and families, but Ulmer is also considering new audiences, saying, “I am thinking of a book for men on coping with cancer. Sort of a guys’ handbook on how to deal with life while dealing with cancer.“ Writing is part of Ulmer’s larger program to raise awareness about the physical, emotional, and financial challenges a serious illness can cause a family.

Hanna’s Letter is a warm and generous book for kids and parents to read together when a family faces a health crisis. It’s sure to open up communication and lend kids a sense of resilience and confidence. You can learn more about Darren Ulmer’s experience, as well as what others have shared from their own diagnoses, at dwulmer.com.

This book is available at your local bookstore or from www.skbooks.com.

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