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Mary Jo Nickum

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Mom's Story, A Child Learns About MS
by Mary Jo Nickum   

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Publisher:  Saguaro Books, LLC ISBN-10:  147835819X Type: 


Copyright:  2013 ISBN-13:  9781478358190

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Mary J. Nickum

Mom’s Story; A Child Learns About MS tells the story of a young girl who sees her mother with some frightening health problems and learns she has MS but she will not die from it. 

Mom’s Story; A Child Learns About MS tells the story of a young girl who sees her mother with some frightening health problems and learns she has MS but she will not die from it. This book is a compassionate, accessible and easy to understand account of symptoms, search for help, diagnosis and adaptation to this heart-wrenching disease. Amy fears the worst, which is common when one is confronted by the unknown. Her best friend, Kayla, doesn’t quite understand why Amy is so worried. Amy’s older sister, Kelly is concerned and does her best to help, while older brother, Tony, tries to deny the whole situation. Information is the key to allaying much of her fear along with understanding from parents, adult friends and her older sister.






I had just finished practicing piano when I heard a loud noise in the kitchen. It wasn’t like a pan hitting the floor with a BANG or the CRACK of glass breaking.
It was a THUMP.
I’d never heard that sound coming from the kitchen before.
I found Mom sitting on the floor and I rushed to her as she started to get up.
“Mommy, Mommy, what happened?”
“Nothing, Amy,” Mom whispered. “I must have slipped. Maybe the floor is wet.”
I hugged Mom and sat in the kitchen with her for a few minutes. She seemed OK.
“Do you need help?” I asked her.
“No, Amy, go on outside if you’ve finished piano for today,” she said.
“OK.” I thought she sounded strange, but I went outside anyway to play with my best friend, Kayla. Playing with our Barbies wasn’t much fun, though. I was still thinking about Mom. I told Kayla about Mom falling.
“What if she falls again?” I asked Kayla. “It was a terrible noise.”
“She probably won’t,” Kayla said. “I fell at school last week and skinned my knee, but I haven’t fallen since.”
“I know, but we’re just kids,” I insisted. “Parents aren’t supposed to fall down.”
Kayla shrugged. “Come to my house. I want to show you what I made at Brownies for my mother for Mother’s Day,” she said.
“Ok,” I said, but I was still thinking about my Mom.
On the way, Kayla invited me to her birthday party. “I’ll be nine years old on Friday. We’re going to the county park on Saturday at 2:00 pm.”
“That’ll be fun. I’ll ask my Mom,” I said. “My birthday is in August. I’ll be nine, too.”
At Kayla’s house, we rushed to her room, calling hellos to her mother on the way. Kayla pulled out a box from under her bed and opened it. In the box was a picture of her mother in a bright red frame.
“That’s beautiful. How did you make it?” I asked.
“I cut a piece of cardboard to outline the photo,” Kayla said. “Then I wrapped the yarn over the cardboard until it was a thick covering and glued the end.”
“It’s really cool. Maybe I’ll try to make something like that for my Mom.”
Suddenly, the thought of Mom sitting on the floor flashed through my mind and I told Kayla, “I’m going home to see if my Mom’s OK. I’ll be back later.

Professional Reviews

Mom's Story
Moms' Story: A Child Learns About MS is a book for children who encounter multiple sclerosis in the family. Eight-year-old Amy tells her story about the day her mother noticed something was wrong and the day she was diagnosed with MS. Amy, as the youngest family member, doesn't quite understand what it means to have MS and together with the rest of the family, she learns more about the disease and how to make things easier for mommy.

The book is told by a child to children. Written in the voice of Amy, no kid should find it difficult to follow. In a very simple and clear way, Mary provides the basic facts about MS, facts that every child should know if there is a family member with the disease and that they can easily understand. The book provides plenty of useful resources such as websites, books, DVDs, associations and groups. There is also a glossary on MS-related terms and an explanation on basic types of MS and MRI procedure. I admit, I learned a lot from it. A spot that made my heart cringe was when Amy asks if mommy was going to die. No child should be faced with this question without a quick and reassuring NO! Don't forget that kids feel everything and think hard about what is going in the family.

Children, as Mary says, are far less fragile than we think sometimes but if they don't understand something, it can lead to frustration, anger and fear. My impression is that this is a very valuable and useful book for everyone who knows someone with MS (and we all do), not only for children, but adults alike. I can see it being used not only in families facing MS, but also by everyone who works with children.
Oh, and did I say I absolutely adore this cover?

Mom's Story
Mom’s Story is a quick and easy read. It is a story about a nine-year-old child who learns that her mother has Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The book delves into the processes involved from the first symptoms to a diagnosis, all while depicting the main character’s emotions and reactions as well as those of her siblings. The family goes from the initial fear that is common when a loved one is diagnosed with MS, to learning about the illness. Knowledge about MS helps a great deal to alleviate those initial fears.
While the child is learning about MS, Nickum cleverly weaves tidbits of information on how online help can be found for those interested in learning about MS. In addition to this, at the end of the book the author included a section titled Information Resources for Families. These pages contain sources of additional information in the form of websites, books, videos, and DVDs that help aid in the understanding of MS.
The education doesn’t end there though, there are a number of other features in Mom’s Story that help with a child’s understanding of MS. With simplicity, Nickum incorporates the pronunciation of technical words associated with MS into the story. Words such as optic neuritis (op-tik nur-I’-tis), and demyelination (dee-mi-lin-A’-shun) are written again in parenthesis breaking the word down for easy pronunciation. This is a wonderful tool for children and adults as some of the words are difficult to pronounce. The author also included a glossary. Words such as Central Nervous System (CNS), MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), and Myelin are explained in a manner that children will be able to comprehend.
In addition to this, Nickum included pages for Facts about MS, Types of MS, Symptoms of MS, and What is an MRI? The Symptoms page is actually the only aspect of the book that I questioned – the symptoms of MS didn’t include fatigue which is a very common complaint with MS sufferers. She did, however, mention it in the story itself.
Mom’s Story is a 74 page book that walks a child, through the voice of a nine-year-old, on the path of understanding MS. As a sufferer of MS, I know that any life altering and disabling chronic illness is difficult to deal with, for the patient and their family. Nickum has managed to provide a very informative and engaging book that handles a complex subject matter very well with easy to understand content. I highly recommend Mom’s Story – A Child Learns About MS.
About the Author: Mary J. Nickum is an editor and freelance writer. She was diagnosed with Ms in 1989 and lives with her husband in Fountain Hills, AZ.

Mom's Story
Cora Laine: I had the pleasure a few weeks ago to read this 80 page book about a child’s view of MS. I am 60 and was captured by the story, it is still fresh in my mind. Mary Jo Nickum caught the essence of MS and the effect it had on this family.

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Reader Reviews for "Mom's Story, A Child Learns About MS"

Reviewed by Deb Hockenberry 12/8/2009
TITLE: Mom’s Story, A Child Learns About MS
AUTHOR: Mary Jo Nickum
PUBLISHER: Chalet Publishers LLC
COPYRIGHT: 2009 by Mary Jo Nickum
FORMAT: Paperback
GENRE: Children
PRICE: $9.95
ISBN-10: 0984083650
ISBN-13: 9780984083657
LCCN: 2009939664

Eight-year-old Amy is practicing the piano when she hears a loud thump. Running into the kitchen she finds her mother sitting on the floor.

Why did Amy’s mom fall? Amy starts to worry because Mom never falls. Then, Mom starts dropping things. One day, Mom almost goes blind in one eye. Dad takes her to the emergency room where some tests are run. Mom is also given an appointment at the Specialty Clinic. Thus, starts Amy and her family’s journey to learn about Multiple Sclerosis.

Amy’s big sister goes to the library and borrows several items about the disease. Dad, Mom and Amy turn to the internet and look up the website for the National MS Society. Through Amy’s journey she learns what she can do to help Mom. She also learns that MS is nothing to be ashamed of. Her big brother, Tony, still has to learn this.

We follow Amy as she learns about the disease. She’s very sad and turns to her best friend, Kayla. It turns out that Kayla’s aunt has it too.

As a fellow MS’er, I fully recommend this book since so many children have a family member suffering from this disease. This is an easy to read and understand book explaining MS to children. Not only does Ms. Nickum insert the pronunciation of the terms of MS but there is also a glossary in the back of this book where she explains them.

Also, in the back of the book the author lists several resources that will help you on your journey to learn about this heart wrenching disease.

You can purchase ‘Mom’s Story, A Child Learns About MS’ at: or you can purchase this directly from Ms. Nickum’s website at:

Deborah Hockenberry, Independent Reviewer

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