Meet Isabelle (Izzy) Hadala, winner of Wild Onion Press's Grace McClelland Prize 2012 for her picture book story THE FIRST DAY SPEECH, illustrated by Jose Pardo.
Izzy, a Disney Dreamer and Doer, is about to make a huge impact on all kids, especially as she enters middle school with her true story of how she gave a speech on her first day of first grade. Izzy, born with Ectodermal Dysplasia— a condition that halted the development of most of her fingers, teeth and toes—was determined to help her classmates understand that kids like her are "not contagious" and are in need of friends, just as we all are. In her first day speech, she more or less stood before her class and said, "Get a good look at me and get over it!"
Today, Izzy is a fantastic soccer player who is a loyal friend to a huge following of fans. In Wild Onion Press's picture book, Izzy "loans" her brave first day speech to a fictional character, Nathan, who has first-day school jitters, representing all children on the eve of a new school year and especially those with a particular worry.
This book was published Aug. 2012, just in time for the first of school, to be read by teachers and all others. Wild Onion Press predicts THE FIRST DAY SPEECH will become a classic to last many, many years. No doubt, Izzy and THE FIRST DAY SPEECH will be ambassadors in all schools, preventing bullying, creating empathy and understanding through a charming, humorous take on the universal experience of all of us when walking into a new situation for the first time.
Illustrator Jose Pardo captures Izzy's story in a Norman Rockwell-like style that makes us smile as we turn each page.
Izzy is now being invited to a variety of schools from Florida to West Virginia to give anti-bullying presentations featuring THE FIRST DAY SPEECH. In October she was chosen to be an anti-bullying ambassador for Aeropostale (STOMP out Bullying campaign), who flew her to N.Y. as their guest. She now models their clothes and spreads the word that "It's kindness that can be contagious." She says, "I want every classroom in every school in America to have THE FIRST DAY SPEECH so no one will be bullied as I was."
The book is available on Amazon and through our Wild Onion Press website. Libraries and schools may order through the distributors Follett and Brodart.