Celebrating the lovies we grew up with

Opinion: John Rice

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Print

By John Rice

Columnist / Staff reporter

Do you miss your "blankie" or the stuffed animal you loved? Local author, Katie McElligott, celebrates the relationship children have with their "lovies" in her book, Nothing is Scary with Harry. Katie grew up in Forest Park, the daughter of James and Ann Murray. Harry is her beloved blanket. Katie is 41, but Harry is still part of her life. He now comforts her 5-year-old daughter, Maggie.

Harry was a hand-me-down from Katie's older sister, Mary Ann. Katie christened him Harold, after Mayor Harold Washington, whose name she often heard as a toddler. Nothing is Scary with Harry is Katie's first book. It retails for $15 and is geared toward the 6-and-under crowd. The book chronicles how Katie's "blankie" helped her through tough times. 

No time was tougher than the one Katie faced as a 19-year-old freshman at the University of Illinois. She was suddenly struck by Guillain-Barre' Syndrome. This disease causes muscle weakness and damage to the nervous system. It is potentially life-threatening. Katie was paralyzed from the neck down for a month. Harry gave her "amazing comfort" until she made a complete recovery.

She realized that Harry has given her strength and courage her entire life. She decided to write a book about their relationship. As full-time creative director for an advertising agency, Katie already had an outlet for her active imagination. She also has a friend at Cottage Door Press, who encouraged her to write about Harry. 

It took her a month to write the book. When she read it to the publisher's top creative person, the woman started crying. She quickly negotiated a publishing contract and chose Jennifer A. Bell to illustrate the book. Katie spent 2018 working with the publisher and her book was launched last February. At her launch party, she sold 200 books in two hours!

Her book has been picked up by Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Target. She has done many book signings with more to come. On Feb. 9, she gave a spirited reading of her book at the Oak Park Public Library to a gathering of parents and kids. 

Katie shared the stage with Lisa Lowry, a local children's therapist. Lowry defined comfort objects and introduced "Puppy" who had given her son peace of mind when he was growing up. She said these "lovies" help children cope with transitions and learn to self-soothe.

As Katie's book demonstrates, there can be a downside to clinging to blankets for too long. Though Harry helps her cope with thunderstorms, visits to the doctor and monsters in the closet, Katie is scolded by a woman who declares, "Blankets are for babies." Even worse, a boy in her grade school class mocks her: "You're way too big for a blanket."

This is why some parents are apprehensive about comfort objects. They don't want their child to be teased or humiliated. They don't want their kid to become too attached to their "lovies" lest they get lost. Love-objects also fall apart. Harry lost his satin trim and developed huge ragged holes. In the book, Katie's mom threatens to throw Harry away. Katie's cry of "No!" takes up two entire pages.  

I have my own traumatic story. I had a teddy bear named "Mr. Soaker" who surely lived up to his name. When I was six, I moved to Oak Park and introduced "Mr. Soaker" to my new acquaintances. They promptly threw him up in a tree, where he got stuck. It was heartbreaking watching "Mr. Soaker" deteriorate for months. 

Katie was sympathetic and inscribed my copy of her book with, "To Mr. Soaker, Rest in Peace."John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries. Jrice1038@aol.com

Love the Review?

Become our partner in independent community journalism

Thanks for turning to Forest Park Review and ForestParkReview.com. We love our thousands of digital-only readers. Now though we're asking you to partner up in paying for our reporters and photographers who report this news. It had to happen, right?

On the plus side, we're giving you a simple way, and a better reason, to join in. We're now a non-profit -- Growing Community Media -- so your donation is tax deductible. And signing up for a monthly donation, or making a one-time donation, is fast and easy.

No threats from us. The news will be here. No paywalls or article countdowns. We're counting on an exquisite mix of civic enlightenment and mild shaming. Sort of like public radio.

Claim your bragging rights. Become a digital member.

Donate Now

Reader Comments

1 Comment - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

Eileen Gaughan from Huntley  

Posted: February 15th, 2020 3:20 PM

Hi, I just bought Katie McElligot's book, Nothing is Scary with Harry. I really like it. It's a large board book, but clearly for 4 yrs. and up. it should last forever. It's cleverly written in rhyme.The illustrations are simple and lovely.

Facebook Connect

Community Guide 2019 - 2020

To view the full print edition of the Forest Park Review 2019 - 2020 Community Guide, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Forest Park.


            
SubscribeClassified
MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad