The mother of a boy whose speech disorder was the inspiration behind her upcoming children’s story is celebrating its publication next month.

Julie Ballard, a mother who lived in Sutton and Epsom and worked as a press officer for the Police Federation, will see her debut book, “The Dinosaur Who Lost Her Voice” published on June 27.

The rhyming tale is a story which features a disabled Brontosaurus who loses her singing voice when her neck is struck in a freak accident.

It then goes on to reveal how she “learns to shine in a different way with the help of her friends” after being rendered mute.

The story was inspired by Ballard’s youngest son, who battled a severe speech disorder prior to starting school.

Her eldest son, who was born at Epsom Hospital, developed speech normally. But her youngest, born in Southampton, struggled with speech and had to use Makaton sign language to communicate.

“When I originally wrote the story I assumed I would have to have a conventional ending, where the lead character regains her voice and lives happily ever after,” she said.

“But it just didn’t feel right.

“Ultimately, I wrote it the way I wanted but assumed it would never be published. So you can imagine my delight when the team at Egmont [the publishers] said they wished to offer me a contract.

“Friendship and teamwork feature heavily, as does focusing not on what you can’t do in life but all the things you can. Oh, and there’s a giant helping of singing dinosaurs too!”

Julie says she is delighted her picture book, featuring illustrations from Francesca Gambatesa, features a disabled protagonist and is being backed by a mainstream publisher.

“I think it’s important for all children to see themselves reflected in the books they read,” she added. “Slowly, slowly there has been a shift towards recognising this, but often, the issue of disability features children in wheelchairs.

“While this is fantastic there are many hidden disabilities – like autism, epilepsy, ADHD, speech disorders and so forth – which don’t get touched upon.

“So I’m thrilled Egmont has decided to throw its weight behind the book. Now I’ve got to sell some and repay their faith in me.”

“The Dinosaur Who Lost Her Voice” is available for pre-order through Amazon, Foyles and Waterstones.

Julie and Francesca will be launching the book at Waterstones, in West Quay, Southampton, on June 29.



for the Amazon link.