Denise Duhamel’s Original Chapter One:
Mr. Rogers and Me
I started writing “books” in the fourth grade while sequestered in Crawford Allen Children’s Hospital in Providence, RI. A severe asthmatic, I befriended other kids with ailments who became the basis for my characters. In one such “novel,” the girl with cancer has magical, witchy powers because of her chemo treatments and cast spells turning our foul tasting medicines into apple juice. In another, the boy with cystic fibrosis has a cape and, curing all our illnesses, leads us in an escape from the hospital. My one of a kind, self-published “books” were hand written on 3-hole lined paper, tied together with ribbons to form a spine, and decorated with my own cover art. The backs spouted fake blurbs with celebrities popular in 1971: This book changed my life!— Mary Tyler Moore. Or Possibly the best book of the century!— Mr. Rogers.