The story behind the evolution of our educational children’s story.
Faber the Dragon is a children’s story about a small child who has a messy dragon living inside of him. Julie Fitzgerald, a fellow Fabry patient, penned the book for her young niece to help explain her rare disease to friends and teachers. These words of a loving aunty have gone on to touch lives throughout the world.
Julie wrote the book when Monica, her niece, was first diagnosed with Fabry disease. Her intention was for Monica to have something she could carry with her to give to friends, family and teaching staff to educate them about the disease and explain, in a simple way, how it affected her.
That was many years ago now and that little girl is a woman, however, Faber the Dragon continues to educate children about the disease.
In 2011, with Julie’s blessing, Fabry Australia had the book professionally illustrated and printed. It was sold on the Fabry Australia website and at functions, to raise funds to assist this not-for-profit organisation in its endeavours to assist those living with Fabry disease.
However, when it came time to reprint Sheridan Campbell, Chair of Fabry Australia, looked at the rising costs of printing and postage and realised that this was a barrier to getting this book into the hands of those who needed it most.
So, she started to look for a solution, and that’s when she came upon the idea of producing it as an animation.
“My main motivation was to be able to distribute it free of charge to as many people who want to access it, to break down the barriers to have that beautiful story told to people,” Sheridan said.
So in 2021, the Fabry Australia committee agreed to make the book into a digital animation.
We wanted to use the original illustrator to stay as true to the original book as possible. He was happy to work with Fabry Australia again, especially knowing that the purpose was to help spread the story to more people at no cost. So, the images were updated and made into a layered format suitable for animating.
And once again Julie was happy to give her blessing for the new improved version of her book and that’s when it all started to come together.
Then it was time to choose a narrator for the story.
Sheridan wanted the voice of the narrator to be a child, which is consistent with how the story is told in the book. When she spoke with the media company they discussed the possibility of getting a young actor to read the story, but Sheridan felt it was important to have someone from our Fabry community read it, so it was someone who was telling their own story.
Sheridan said, “there’s so much strength in sharing our stories and it’s nice for the children to have the opportunity to do that as well.”
“We’ve had that experience before when my eldest son took Faber the Dragon to school and read it to his classmates on Rare Disease Day. The teacher reported back that it was a really powerful testimony that helped the other kids understand what it’s like to live with a rare disease. So it’s a great resource to give kids that voice.”
Sheridan didn’t have to look far to find the perfect voice for the job, she asked her 9-year-old son, Alec, if he would be the narrator and he was very happy to assist.
Alec said “I think Mum’s idea to have someone with Fabry read the book was a good idea because if the person reading it didn’t know about Fabry, they might not even think it was real. So that’s why I think it was important for someone with Fabry to read it.”
Alec is pictured here with the Faber the Dragon stuffed toy that he received as a gift for doing the narration.
The author, Julie, is very happy with the finished product. “I never imagined that it would go further than the simple homemade book, illustrated with clip art and printed on my home printer, to the beautiful professionally illustrated book that it is today. Let alone a digital animation that could potentially be seen around the world.”
“I am thrilled that the book has helped many other families around the world and hopefully with the digital animation it can continue to help and educate Fabry patients and the other people in their lives for many years to come,” Julie said.
Watch the Faber the Dragon animation
And so we present to you, the latest evolution of Faber the Dragon, an animated production, authored by Julie Fitzgerald and narrated by Alec Campbell – both fellow Fabry patients.
Copies of the printed Faber the Dragon book are still available to purchase on our website HERE
The original print version of Faber the Dragon, was printed with the assistance of the pharmaceutical company, Takeda. We thank them for their past assistance with this project.
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