“Grant the Jigsaw Giraffe ~ Different is More!”, written by Julie Coy Manier and illustrated by her son with Asperger’s, Grant Manier, is about a young giraffe who is born with jigsaw pieces instead of spots, but follows his passion to paint despite his challenges. “Grant the Jigsaw Giraffe” is a heartfelt story that resonates with anyone who feels different, but not less.
A new baby giraffe is born at the city zoo. Grant, the baby giraffe looks like a giraffe, but he’s different. His spots are not spots at all, instead he has jigsaw puzzle pieces. He looks different, he acts differently, and he has some physical challenges. But, Grant doesn’t let his differences stand in the way; he has big dreams!
Grant the Jigsaw Giraffe wants to be a talented paintbrush artist, but how will he hold a paintbrush with hooves? Grant is initially discouraged by the idea that he may never become an artist and paint colorful masterpieces. Then, he sets off on a journey through the zoo with his trusted friend, Ms. Judy, to explore the world around him in hope of finding his talent.
Follow Grant’s journey and get ready to be amazed by what different minds can do.
Interview with Julie Coy Manier:
Can you give us a summary of what the storyline is about and how it relates to other Autistic youth?
This book was created based on the Eco-original Jigsaw Giraffe created by Grant in 2016. Grant chose not to add spots to his giraffe, and instead used his signature puzzle piece style to create this one-of-a-kind jigsaw giraffe.
I felt this giraffe was a sweet resemblance of my son’s giant, but gentle spirit and asked to name the art piece: Grant. With Grant’s permission, “Grant the Jigsaw Giraffe” was born.
How did you conceive the idea of the book; how did this start, and why is it important to you?
I started to write a children’s story about this giraffe, and based the storyline on Grant’s real life circumstances. But this book is not just for autistic individuals, it is for everyone.
Over the years I have seen Grant grow into this amazing young man and artist, inspiring and shifting the perceptions of how people stereotype and perceive “special needs” individuals. Many other highly gifted individuals have come before Grant, but I believe that his ability to connect with audiences of all ages and differences through his story is the magical blend behind his success.
He is charismatic, charming, and sensitive to those with special needs or not, traveling and teaching the importance of awareness, acceptance, and appreciation. Because, like Grant, everyone with differences is more, not less!
How is Grant making the art in the book? Is there “ecoart” involved?
The artwork, all done by Grant, is a combination of hand sketched drawings that he then enhances on the computer. There is Eco-art involved, and it will amaze you how the story of a giraffe and Grant Manier are one in the same.
Can you tell us about the easier to read dyslexia font in the book, and the accompanying smartphone app?
The book has three key features:
- The forward is graciously written by Dr. Temple Grandin
- The book includes Smart Phone Technology that offers readers a virtual experience to meet the author and artist. Readers will receive instructions on downloading a free phone app with their purchase. They can point their digital device on the designated areas and view short videos of the author and artist, plus see Grant Manier create his zoo animals with recycled materials.
- And, the dyslexia-friendly font
People with dyslexia often swap, rotate and flip letters without noticing, creating a problem in which some letters are too similar to each other. Graphic designer, Christian Boer, created “Dyslexie font”, which is designed so that every letter is unique in its own form. Boer has dyslexia himself and designed the font to improve his reading life. You can read more about Boer’s font here: www.Dyslexiefont.com
What kind of important messages are in the book for young readers and adults to learn?
- The bond between a parent and a special needs baby. The mother in the book is aware that her son is different from other giraffes. She doesn’t make his difference wrong, and she loves him and knows he will find his way. She is patient and adamant that Grant, the giraffe, will not be left behind. Her zoo friends are there to support and encourage Grant.
- We all have talents; we just need to follow our passion, even if it stems from “quirky” behavior.
- How awkward or different we may seem to others or ourselves, we must realize that those differences are exactly what we need to find our special purpose, and we have many.
- Finding our creativity doesn’t mean we have to follow the standard way of doing things.
- Follow your passion. Use the physical and mental tools you were born with, disabled or not.
- Environmental responsibility is more than recycling trash, it’s art!
- Like Grant the Jigsaw Giraffe, do your part to save the planet and keep it green and clean.
- Sharing your talents with others; that is “recycling” at its best.
- Don’t do this alone. Find a support group, obtain knowledge, and love yourself no matter what your differences may be.
- Embrace your differences and find your potential through them.
What kind of audience do you want to reach?
All ages and demographics, because we are all different and special in our own way.
What are your goals with publishing this book?
We want to inspire and educate individuals to look beyond the negative label of being “different” or “disabled”. We want to encourage people to instead see them as “different abilities” that can help them reach greater potential, making their lives and possibly even the world a better place.
What is your relationship to Aspergers101?
Grant and I have been working with Aspergers 101 for the past three years. Jennifer Allen and I are both mothers of autistic young adult men. We have leaned on each other for advice and support. Because we are both passionate about the future of young adults on the spectrum, we have teamed up together tackling the barriers that kids on the spectrum face, such as driving.
Jennifer and Sam Allen’s “Driving with Autism” program captured the attention of the State of Texas Department of Public Safety, and we have come on board as part of the initiative to help raise this awareness with them. Grant was instrumental in helping to create the Driving with Autism bumper sticker for vehicles.
Also, Jennifer Allen was a big part of the birth of our book, “Grant the Jigsaw Giraffe”. One day over a “girl chat” session, I explained this new art piece that Grant was working on, the Giraffe. One thing led to another in conversation and the Jigsaw Giraffe was born! I took the idea and ran with it, creating the story around my son Grant.
Grant and I are grateful for the business association with Aspergers 101, the connections we have made, and above all the personal and loving relationship we have together as friends.
Get your copy of “Grant the Jigsaw Giraffe” Book HERE!
After an extensive career broadcast marketing, Jennifer and her husband searched for answers when their oldest son hit the kinder years with great difficultly. After finally learning that their oldest son had Aspergers Syndrome, she left her career in television and became a full time mother to both of her sons. Jennifer elicited the participation of her sons and together they produced several independent programs including a children’s animated series titled Ameriquest Kids (now distributed by Landmark Media) as well as her documentary and book titled, Coping to Excelling: Solutions for school-age children diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism or Aspergers Syndrome.
The need for more information encouraged Jennifer to elicit a team of autism experts to provide weekly, original content to a website free to anyone seeking to live their best under the diagnosis of High-Functioning Autism/Aspergers Syndrome… appropriately titled: Aspergers101.com.