CHARLES TOWN—Life lessons, as well as a taste of history, are all part of a new children’s book that addresses issues that are still around today.
Local author Bob O’Connor’s second children’s book, “The Blind Boy Who Helped Save The Union”, involves two of O’Connor’s favorite things to write about: his blind 15-year-old grandson Kyle and the American Civil War. Kyle attends the Maryland School for the Blind in Nottingham, Md. O’Connor dedicates the book to the school, its staff and students. It was released in September.
Kyle is the protagonist in O’Connor’s book. The youngster, who was blind at birth, is “sent” back into the Civil War. He overhears two men discussing a heinous plot by a southern doctor named Dr. Luke Blackburn. The doctor plans to send yellow fever laden blankets to the North to hopefully kill President Lincoln. Kyle foils the plan by telling the sheriff about the two men then identifying them by the sound of their voices.
“Kyle told me that people assumed he was stupid because he couldn’t see. They also thought he was deaf and couldn’t speak. Kyle has taught me people with handicaps help us more than we help them. Give them a chance,” O’Connor said.
O’Connor also shows in the book that Kyle is not only blind but color blind. He has a good friend named Sandy who is African American. Kyle’s character says,
“Her color didn’t make any difference to me. She was my friend. She could have been blue or green or red. It did not matter to me.”
Dr. Blackburn’s plot to possibly kill Lincoln is based on historical fact.
“This was a real situation. I wanted to be accurate, present the Civil War to children, but not the gory parts,” O’Connor said.
O’Connor also has a connection to Lincoln. Originally from Dixon, Illinois, Lincoln’s home state, O’Connor learned about Lincoln all through school. He moved to Charles Town in 2000.
“I also had and have a great interest in the Civil War,” he said.
His latest work, which is 43 pages long, features colorful illustrations.
“Good illustrations are a must for children’s books,” O’Connor said.
O’Connor’s illustrator is Sheena Hisiro, who also is responsible for the drawings in his first children’s book, “I Was a Drummer Boy in the American Civil War”, published in 2018. Hisiro operates her illustration and design business in New York City. She has a BFA in Communications Design from Pratt Institute, and has illustrated more than 40 other books.
“The Blind Boy Who Helped Save The Union” is O’Connor’s 17th book. He has written five non-fiction books and ten historical novels.
O’Connor, 75, said he would like the opportunity to read his book to youngsters in schools. To contact the author, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I believe they can learn from Kyle. Know that handicaps don’t matter and that they can pick their friends no matter what color they are,” he said.
“The Blind Boy Who Helped Save The Union” is available at Patterson’s Drug Store in Martinsburg; at Four Season’s Books in Shepherdstown; and at the author’s website — www.boboconnorbooks.com; or at www.amazon.com.