AP NEWS

Moral of Their Stories: Power of Love

April 1, 2019

This is the latest in The Sun’s “Be a Volunteer” series. Email suggestions for profiles to cscott@lowellsun.com .

By Amaris Castillo

acastillo@lowellsun.com

TYNGSBORO -- Back in December, Hannah Sheridan was inspired to create a children’s book based on a story her 2-year-old niece, Jane Santoro, shared over dinner one night.

There was a mouse in their new house, Jane told her aunt with excitement.

An amused Sheridan, of Littleton, began work on the story about a girl named Jane -- just like her niece -- whose mother tasks her with trapping a mouse in their home.

Several days later came the real Jane’s diagnosis. The toddler had B-Cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The young Littleton girl has endured a lot and most recently she battled pneumonia.

The idea then struck Sheridan, 29, to complete the book she began and try to sell it to help with Jane’s medical costs not covered by insurance. That’s how Books for Jane was born.

Sheridan and one of Jane’s other aunts, Stephanie DiCarlo, 34, have two self-published children’s books: “There’s a Mouse in My New House!” written by Sheridan with illustrations by DiCarlo’s 6-year-old son, Miles DiCarlo, and “Yuni,” written and illustrated by DiCarlo. All profits from print and digital sales of the books go directly to Jane to help defray her medical bills. Both books are dedicated to Jane and available for purchase on Amazon.

“I think, money aside, it feels so good to know you have so many people pulling for you,” Jane’s mother, Sandra Santoro, said. “Having a leukemia diagnosis, you feel like ‘How did this happen?’ You feel so unlucky, but then there’s ways that you feel really lucky.”

Santoro has detailed her daughter’s journey in an online journal, filled with the ups and downs of Jane’s treatments.

Jane, her mother and Sheridan stopped by DiCarlo’s Tyngsboro home on a recent Tuesday. DiCarlo picked up her niece and sat her on her lap. Jane shyly clung to her aunt. Before them on the island kitchen table were the two books dedicated to the toddler.

“Who drew the pictures?” Sheridan asked Jane, gesturing to “There’s a Mouse in My New House!”

“Miles,” Jane said bashfully. She turned her head and buried it into her aunt’s chest.

DiCarlo’s “Yuni” is a story about a brave ear of corn named Yuni who goes out in search of a mythical creature that shares her name.

“It feels nice to be able to do something, just because there was literally nothing that I could do when she was in the hospital,” DiCarlo, a teacher, said about publishing the book. “It was so hard to not be able to do anything.”

Sheridan said she and MIles worked for several weeks on “There’s a Mouse in My New House!” During Jane’s long hospital stays, her parents would receive video recordings of Miles reading books to his cousin. He would start each video by welcoming Jane to her bedtime story.

Miles said he was happy to illustrate a book for his cousin.

“I know some people think it’s very hard to help somebody who has cancer with money,” Miles said. “But if you decide to create a book, it’s actually pretty easy.”

This is only the beginning of the Books for Jane series. DiCarlo said there are more on the way.

For more information on how to support the Sheridan, DiCarlo and Santoro family’s effort to raise money for Jane’s medical expenses, please visit www.booksforjane.com .

Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.