Princess Lillian and Grandpa’s Goodbye

by | Aug 10, 2023 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

By Jenny Fulton

Death is a difficult and often scary event to see, discuss, and process. A topic this challenging for adults is even more so for children, especially when faced with the loss of a loved one.

Princess Lillian and Grandpa’s Goodbye, geared toward children ages 3-10 years old, talks about death and Heaven in a non-scary way that children can understand.

In the story, a young half-Navajo girl named Lillian is taken to the hospital to visit her dying grandpa. She’s scared of the noises and machines in the room and uncertain of the man in the strange bed. But God knows how she’s feeling and sends an angel who stays close by to give comfort and communicate God’s peace and wisdom to Lillian and her family. 

One of Lillian’s favorite games is to make-believe she’s a princess. Her imaginary world fuses the Navajo idea of princesses with the European version of kings and kingdoms. Knowing this, her parents and grandpa use the language of her pretend princess world to help her understand that Grandpa is getting ready to go to Heaven and be with God.  

My hope is that this book will offer a sense of comfort and encouragement to adults and children who are facing the death of a loved one. I also hope it will help the adults in a child’s life to explain the concept to them and that it will open up more discussion.

I want readers to see that death, while still sad, can also be a good and beautiful event. It doesn’t need to be feared. In addition, I want to give children a visual reminder that, no matter what happens, God is always with them. He’s there to love and comfort them even if they feel sad or scared.

Authors’ Lounge readers might be interested to know that Princess Lillian and Grandpa’s Goodbye was a 2022 International Book Awards Finalist.

Behind the Story

I wrote Princess Lillian and Grandpa’s Goodbye in December 2020 after my Grandpa Bauman had a heart attack and was taken to the hospital. 

My mom kept us updated. “He’s ready to go home,” she told us.

A video she later sent us confirmed it. I’ve never seen someone so patiently and eagerly awaiting his call into Heaven. Shortly after watching the video, I sat down to process the bittersweet feelings of seeing someone I loved preparing to leave this world. As is often the case, I processed by writing. In this case, I took a fictional character I’d written short stories about and tried to look at the scenario through her eyes. 

I also pulled from an earlier experience in my life. When I was 6 years old, my aunt Jana died from brain cancer (she was only 33). They took us to see her in the hospital right before she went. It was scary. I didn’t like the noise or the smells and didn’t fully understand what was happening. For a long time after that moment, I didn’t like hospitals.

Writing this book allowed me to pull from the past and present to create a story that could explain death and Heaven in a way that, while still sad, wasn’t bad or scary. In a sense, I was writing it for the little girl I once was and for the three little girls I now have.  

What’s Next

My illustrator, Indra Grace Hunter, and I are working with Literary Agent Kristen Terrette to find a publisher who is interested in helping us publish more books about Princess Lillian. I would love to introduce readers to more of her adventures as she grows and learns about this world while maintaining her hold on her imaginary one.

More About Me

I am a published freelance writer, content editor, and a multi-genre author of children’s books, a Bible study, and a YA fantasy book. I’ve worked as a teacher in a variety of cultural and educational settings, both abroad and in the United States. An enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, I grew up in Kansas but regularly visited family and friends on the reservations where I fell in love with the lands and its people. This heritage inspired an early love for other cultures and languages. While in college, I worked with Sudanese and Hispanic populations and spent three months in Mexico studying Spanish and teaching elementary English classes. In 2007, I moved to China where I taught ESL at an international school and learned Mandarin. Three years later, I moved to the Navajo Nation where I taught at a grant school for a year before moving to Albuquerque, NM. These days, I’m a busy full-time mom and part-time writer. I greatly enjoy both jobs.

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