With a foreword by Senator Elizabeth Dole and illustrations by Inna Eckman, author Sarah Verardo’s Hero at Home offers a touching children’s story that describes a family caring for their father, a wounded combat veteran.
The nonfiction picture book introduces readers to “Grace’s Dad” Michael, a man who, a page at the end of the book explains, “sustained catastrophic and life-changing injuries in 2010” in Afghanistan. He underwent 119 surgeries and many other therapies. The story chronicles the everyday life of Grace’s family, which thrives even as its members adapt to the physical and psychological trauma Michael experienced.
Verardo’s writing is straightforward yet effective; for example, “[Michael] wears a special leg that looks like it belongs on a robot. His arm was rebuilt with lots of tools.” Meanwhile, the children work each day to help their father adapt to his new circumstances: “Every morning Grace helps her Daddy’s nurse check his heart…” Most poignantly, the author writes that “Grace’s Dad tells her that sometimes people get hurt and their bodies change, but they still have the same heart.”
The book’s illustrations are simple and light-spirited. They complement the text, and convey that while the family deals with incredibly difficult circumstances on a daily basis, they still manage to prosper as a unit. In addition to Eckman’s illustrations, the book includes photographs by Lindsay Hart of the Verardo family, which increases the emotional and educational impact of the work.
Verardo’s work rings with the power of authenticity. It should be noted that this is not a children’s story meant for entertainment, but a work aimed at helping children understand the emotional and physical toll that wounded combat veterans and their families face. As a story to educate children on this topic, Hero at Home excels. It is a valuable resource, suitable for educators and parents alike.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.