"Hello Little Flower," Brand's second book in the series, combines clever rhyming, facts about flowers and brightly colored illustrations for young readers.
Eight-year-old Abigail Brand of Hereford may be the area’s youngest philanthropist, but her drive to help babies in neonatal intensive care units speaks to a sense of compassion beyond her years.
For the past few years, Brand has been writing a series of creative and informative children’s books – called the “Hello Little” books – to raise money the Forrest G. Moyer Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest.
The series was created after Brand’s younger sister was admitted to the NICU. “My youngest daughter had to be seen by the NICU staff, and [Brand] just kept asking all these questions” about the unit, Brand’s mother Renee Woodard said. Her sister is OK, but the experience left a lasting impression on the young Brand, who approached her mother about writing the “Hello Little” series and donating half of the money raised through book sales to the NICU.
“I think it’s amazing,” Woodard said. “She actually wrote a story when she was 4 (years old) and I was just blown away by it. I still have it. And then when she said she wanted to do this, I thought it was actually pretty cool.”
The books are dedicated to her sisters, now ages 8 and 2. “I’m very creative and I like to come up with stories,” Brand said about writing the books.
Her first book, written at the age of 5, is titled “Hello Little Cloud” and includes cloud facts and musings. “Hello Little Flower,” her second book, is written as a poem that teaches readers about how flowers grow. She is also working on the third book in the series, “Hello Little Treetop.”
All of the books are hand-written and brightly illustrated by Brand, who uses fine-point markers and, in her soon-to-be released “Hello Little Treetop,” twistable crayons. A fourth addition to the series, “Hello Little Snowflake,” is in the planning stages.
“I like making the pictures best, and when it’s done, I like seeing my handwriting,” Brand said about her experience into authorship and self-publication.
Brand’s aunt also helped her translate “Hello Little Cloud” into Spanish (“Hola Nubecita”).
So far Brand has donated a total of $885 to the LVH NICU. When she made her first donation in 2011, the staff took her on a tour of the unit, giving her a firsthand look at who she was working to help.
“I got to see some of the babies. They were in the incubator and some had air tubes in their noses,” she said, adding that “it feels good” to make the donations. She also helps out at her church when congregation members make care packages for babies in the NICU.
Brand’s efforts have not gone unrecognized: She has won $2,000 in scholarships toward higher education so far from the Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program. The program awards college scholarships to youth making positive contributions in their communities through volunteering. A friend initially suggested that Brand apply for the scholarship contest at Kohl’s and she has won the store-level competition for the past two years. This year, Brand also won the regional competition and is now in the running to compete for a $10,000 college scholarship at the national level.
In addition to writing and drawing, Brand enjoys riding her scooter, playing games and making fun Power Point presentations on the computer. She also “loves to read” and “always has a book in her hand,” Woodard said. Her favorite books include the Junie B. Jones and Amber Brown series, and her favorite author is Shel Silverstein. Brand said she would like to be a teacher when she grows up.
The “Hello Little” books, which cost $5 each, are available for purchase online at http://www.hellolittleonline.com/my-books.html.