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Rodney, the hare that didn’t care (but he did really)

calendarMarch 4 2020

Gail Crampton talks about her book, Rodney the hare that didn’t care (but he did really). She explains why she wrote it to help children with hidden illnesses and medical conditions, and how important it is.

It started with Crohns

Rodney Meadow-Hopper, The Hare Who Didn’t Care (but he did really), was released at the end of 2019.

My daughter, Isabelle, was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. It was her illness and our experiences led me to write the book to raise awareness of invisible illnesses.

The front cover of Rodney Meadow Hopper, the hare that didn't care. The cover shows a drawing of a brown hair with a rainbow behind him.

Watching children struggle

I wrote Rodney to raise awareness of invisible illnesses and help children to talk about what is bothering them. The book came about after I witnessed my daughter and other children with IBD interacting with adults and various health professionals. It became apparent that there is a lot of pressure to be ‘brave and strong’ on children. They have to be ‘warriors’ and ‘fighters’; the language alone puts a lot of pressure on children, which isn’t fair. And it isn’t just kids with IBD, parents of children of other diseases, paediatric cancer for example, tell me that these terms are also used when describing their kids.

It started when I noticed my daughter would just say she was fine because she wanted to go home, or she would withhold from me as she felt responsible for me being upset or anxious. So Rodney Meadow-Hopper, encourages children to discuss with their parents how they feel.

image of a tweet that says 'Charming Claire. Simple but incredibly warm and reassuring for children with hidden illness. Youngest absolutely loved it, his face was a picture. He said 'how do they know?'.

Rodney has an illness, which is never disclosed. He doesn’t want to play or tell his friends in case they don’t want to be around him or treat him differently. So they just think he is grumpy.

Honesty is essential

It was important to show that when Rodney was honest with his friends everything was alright because they understood. Friends and family can’t help if they don’t know what is going on and we see that Rodney feels happier once he shares how he feels. The story is told through gentle rhyme and Megan Pugh’s beautiful illustrations tell a story too. As the story progresses, you will notice that clouds and drab colours gradually get brighter until we finish with a rainbow. The rainbow is also a nod to the LGBTQ community.

message that says 'hello I absolutely love it. it actually made me a little teary as could relate to it so much. You have done a brilliant job and should be so so proud of yourself. I read it to Ronnie and before I started I told him the hare had haemophilia.

I feel it’s important to talk about health issues from a very early age as I have witnessed children shutting down. This happens because they don’t want to appear weak or worry their parents. Isabelle stopped telling us anything eventually as we got so distressed, and it is guilt I will live with for a long time. 

I hope that Rodney will get everyone talking. Parents and health professionals should understand when kids are ‘masking’. I also feel it is essential that they all to know it’s OK not to be OK! It would be great for Rodney to be read in schools and hospitals, anywhere with young children.

And kids don’t have to be ill to read it. Raising awareness is so important and it can help better understanding of others.

The feedback I’ve had so far has been incredible, you can see just some of the comments here. I’m so thrilled it’s being understood and enjoyed.

Image of a message saying 'thank you so much for these beautiful books Gail. They truly capture the struggles of those with invisible illnesses. The story is so lovingly written and fosters a real sense of empathy. It brought tears to my eyes as it truly reflects the struggles that my son faces daily. I so wish we had a copy when he was in primary school as it would have been such a big help. These 2 lovely books are heading to his old primary school (which his younger brother still attends) to help others who may be in similar situations. Thank you again for bringing this story to life...it's been long overdue.

You can buy Rodney Meadow-Hopper, the Hare Who Didn’t Care here on the WeCanAccess Marketplace.

Meet Gail

Gail is a mum of 2, living in South Staffordshire. Since Isabelle’s diagnosis, she has been driven to raise awareness of invisible illnesses as so many people look fine but they are not! You can read Gail’s blog on Crohn’s Disease here: https://wecanaccess.com/crohns-diagnosing-my-daughter/

A head shot of Gail Crampton. Gail has shoulder-length light brown hair, and is wearing her glasses on her head.
Gail Crampton

In addition to writing Rodney, Gail has raised money for Crohn’s and Colitis UK, CICRA (Crohns in childhood research association) and Birmingham Children’s hospital. I gave a talk at Alderhay hospital in Liverpool for a charity called Raiise, raising awareness of invisible illness in school and education, and spoken on the radio a number of times.

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