A 1994 graduate of the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, Jessica Jasperson and her 24-year-old daughter, Summer Laurel, didn’t let either of their disabilities stop them from achieving their dream of writing and illustrating a children’s book. Jasperson, who has been legally blind since birth, and Laurel, who has a severe seizure disorder, refuse to stay within the confines of what many envision when they think of people with disabilities.
The mother and daughter team recently wrote and illustrated their first children’s book, titled “Olivia the Magic Office Chair: And the Super-Duper, Sneaky Secret,” and have released it in digital format on Amazon and in paperback format in their Etsy shop.
The story follows the main character (a seemingly normal office chair that can secretly come to life as Olivia the Magic Office Chair) and her friend, Haley, on an adventurous, magical journey to another country after Haley accidentally discovers Olivia’s “super-duper, sneaky secret.” The book is geared toward children ages 4 to 8 and not only offers them an entertaining story, but more importantly, helps them learn about a different country, its culture and its people.
“I’ve never let being legally blind stop me from doing anything I’ve wanted to do,” Jasperson said. “I earned my bachelor’s degree in communication from Florida State University back in 2008 and was a freelance sales and marketing copywriter for over 10 years. I’ve also written my memoir (‘The Way I See It’) as well as a screenplay adaption of one of my favorite thriller novels, but I’ve always wanted to write a children’s book.”
Jasperson continued, “I’ve known since Summer was a young child that she had an innate talent for drawing, so when she told me about my granddaughter being obsessed with spinning around in an office chair, it gave us the idea for this story and Olivia the Magic Office Chair was born.
“Because the story was inspired by Summer’s daughter, Summer was the only person I would have wanted to illustrate the book and thankfully she said yes when I asked her if she would.”
The women are already working on a second book in what will be a series of Olivia the Magic Office Chair books.
“I’ve had so much fun being able to work with my mom on this first book and I’m excited for us to finish the second book and make a series out of Olivia and Haley’s adventures around the world together,” Laurel said.
“When I was diagnosed with a seizure disorder a couple years ago, I was disheartened and wasn’t sure what I was going to do for a career since I can have a seizure at any given moment. Thankfully, I have a mother who’s shown me my whole life that disabilities don’t have to stop us from doing what we want to do. Now, because of our book, I know I can be a graphic designer and I have a new plan for my life,” Laurel said.
To purchase a digital copy, visit tinyurl.com/MagicOlivia. Paperback copies are available at tinyurl.com/PaperbackOlivia.
The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind is a tuition-free state public school and outreach center available to eligible Pre-K and K-12 students who are deaf/hard of hearing, blind/visually impaired, or deafblind. At FSDB, students learn how to do more, be more, and achieve more, fulfilling our vision of preparing them for a lifetime of success. FSDB gratefully accepts private donations to support vital programs that directly benefit students and are not paid by state general revenue funds. For a campus tour or to inquire about eligibility for enrollment, contact FSDB Parent Services at 904-827-2212 voice or 904-201-4527 videophone. For more information, visit www.fsdbk12.org