Recognizing the Gifts in Those Who Are Different

Recognizing the Gifts in Those Who Are Different

Do you have a child with special needs or know someone who does? These days, it’s getting more and more common to see children with special needs anywhere you go. I speak from personal experience–my son is one of these wonderful children. They have a different way of looking at the world that can really help you to see life from a whole new perspective. If you’re close enough to them, you will learn things about yourself (especially your own shortcomings) that you never knew, and you will grow as a person just by being with and relating to them.Almost a year ago, I was asked to illustrate a children’s book called the “The Boy in a Tree,” written by my sister’s friend, Pamela Boodle. This book follows the life of a cognitively impaired child who has a fascination and relentless interest in climbing trees. And not just any tree. He searches for trees “with branches made just right for climbing and up, up, up he goes.” Over and above the grand height he ascends to in those towering limbs, his childlike outlook on life encourages us to take pleasure in the simple joys of life.  During the last several months between other commissions, I worked on the illustrations for this book, starting with a freehand pencil sketch for the layouts, scanning the drawings into my computer, and then coloring them with Photoshop’s paint tools. This allowed me to keep the texture of the pencil and that hand-drawn look while having the flexibility to quickly change color and prepare a digital product ready to be printed.I met with the author today at a local coffee shop and showed her the illustrations I did for the book. While we were there, a family with two young children gazed intently at the color copies of the book illustrations. That’s a good sign! The parents said, “I think you have an audience already.”

It is my hope as the illustrator of this book, and certainly even more so the author’s…

…that the words and images will help children to see the people around them who may be different than them in a new light, and think about life’s purpose, what’s truly important, and what we are really here for. I think adults will get something out of it too. I know the author’s words really touched me as I read them, and that’s part of the reason why I agreed to do the illustrations for the text.Here are the first several pages of this 28 page picture book. It is not published yet, but if you have any interest in this book, please let me know and I will put you on a list so that when it does become available, you can be one of the first to get a copy!

"The Boy in a Tree" Intro Page 1

“The Boy in a Tree” Intro Page 1

"The Boy in a Tree," Intro Page 2

“The Boy in a Tree,” Intro Page 2


“The Boy in a Tree,” Page 1 & 2

"The Boy in a Tree," page 3 & 4

“The Boy in a Tree,” page 3 & 4

"The Boy in a Tree," Page 5 & 6

“The Boy in a Tree,” Page 5 & 6

That’s it for now. I will be including some more pages of the book in a future post, but the entire book will be available only in print. I hope these words and images have encouraged you today!


1. How do people with special needs add value to our society?2. What specific things can you do to encourage a person with special needs?3. How can you, in a practical way, help or encourage a person who is caring for someone with special needs? 






"I have inscribed you on the palm of my hands."

Inscribed6a 500px

"Inscribed," Pencil on Paper, by Matt Philleo

One day, when I was discouraged I read a verse in the Bible, in Isaiah, 49:15-16, where it says, "Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palm of my hands." This verse brought such encouragement, that I created this original work of art to share the incredible love of God with others, including you!

Get a free 8 x 10 copy of this drawing that you can use to print, share, or as wallpaper!

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