When Kimberly Munson’s daughter, Kinsley, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2015, the Minneapolis mother was thrown off guard.
Kinsley, then 4 years old, started exhibiting the common type 1 symptoms, including needing to go to the bathroom often. But Munson didn’t immediately pick up on the signs.
“Kinsley’s is a common story, but we didn’t put two and two together right away because there is not a lot of awareness about type 1 symptoms,” Munson said.
She hopes to change that with a new line of children’s books, the first called “Maggie’s Mystery.”
Wanting to introduce Kinsley and other young children to the challenges of living with diabetes, Munson wrote a character for them to relate to. The story is told through the perspective of an excitable and curious first-grader named Maggie Martin, who is navigating how to adjust to a new way of life after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
The first book is out, the second in the works.
The idea came when Munson, an adult education teacher, began researching how to spot the signs of type 1 diabetes. She found some picture books that were “fluffy” and not particularly helpful.
“They’re like 10 pages total,” said Munson, whose book runs about 70 pages, “and it’s like you find out you have diabetes and at night you go and have cotton candy at the carnival. And that’s just not what happens.”
Inspired by how much she had loved Beverly Cleary’s “Ramona” series and “Little House on the Prairie” books growing up, Munson wanted to create a relatable protagonist. Thus, Maggie was born.
Munson said she “took a lot of creative liberties” to differentiate Maggie from Kinsley, but many of the struggles are similar.
For example, the Munson family must give Kinsley, now 6, two injections whenever she eats. One is insulin, and the other is to maintain her body’s homeostasis. They also must ask Kinsley how much she plans on eating and base the amount of insulin on that.
Kaitlin, Munson’s younger daughter, usually wants a shot, too, and feels left out of the process. So in her second book, Munson is giving Maggie a little sister, Melody, and is writing about how Melody copies everything Maggie does.
“Kaitlin copies Kinsley and also wants to explain everything she eats on her plate,” Munson said. “To her, this is normal because that’s how you live when your sister has type 1 diabetes. But she doesn’t realize why we’re asking Kinsley these things.”
Munson said her book, which is available on Amazon, has raised awareness and that people are buying them and donating them to schools.
“Having someone in literature you can relate to is powerful in any situation,” she said. “If you have a medically fragile child, there’s a lot of power in that. It warms my heart knowing Kinsley has a character to grow up with.”