Jingle the Jellyfish helps Children’s Beach House

by Michael Short on February 24, 2011

By Michael Short

Three local children have written a children’s book that the authors hope will raise thousands of dollars for the Children’s Beach House in Lewes.

The three cousins were playing and drawing last year, when they started to cut out the  jellyfish, sharks, starfish and clown fish they had created. With a little imagination, the jellyfish would soon become the star of his own book.

But this is not just any old jellyfish.

The creation of Cassie, Caden and Jack Schell is a giant, red, noisy jellyfish named Jingle. Jingle is the star of “Jingle The Giant Jellyfish Finds Christmas” and he has a special message for anyone who has ever felt a little bit different.

Jingle has jingle bells at the end of his tentacles. He’s too big, too bright and especially, too noisy, to play any of the games his friends like to play. He longs to fit in, but can’t even help his friends decorate their underwater Christmas tree with seaweed because he keeps knocking the tree down.

“Why am I so big and jangly?” thinks the sad jellyfish.

But soon, all the things that make him so different, will make him a very special part of Christmas. “They (the children) understood that he was different, but that he still had something really special to offer,” said Kathleen Schell, the mother of five-year-old Jack and “Aunt KK” to Caden, 8, and Cassie, 7.

“They were cutting, drawing, gluing and glittering and he ended up with jingle bells on his tentacles,” she remembered. “The story just kind of evolved from there.”

One thing led to another and pretty soon, the three children had come up with characters and a reason why Jingle had his bells.

“Aunt KK” decided to make a little Christmas book for each of  the children with their characters and stories. It was rough and hand-made and the clip art was pretty far from professional.

But the tiny book under the Christmas tree was a huge hit with the children. “They were so excited about it. They already wanted to do another book,” she said.

Then, an idea was born. Why not try to sell the book and make money for the Children’s Beach House? The Beach House has been a part of the children’s families for years. Both their mothers serve on the Board of Trustees and a great aunt and great uncle served on the board for more than 65 years.

Jingle’s message that being different can still be very special seemed perfect for supporters of the Beach House because the Beach House has helped challenged children for generations.

The Beach House founded by Lydia Chichester duPont is dedicated to helping children reach their greatest potential, whether they have hearing loss, motor skill issues, vision difficulties or other concerns. The Beach House was founded in 1936 and has helped generations of children with polio, rheumatic fever, autism, cerebral palsy and other challenges.

“The Beach House is a wonderful organization which has programs to help children with special needs attend camps at the beach and succeed at home, school and in their communities. Our book focuses on how our differences make us unique and exceptional, which is what the Beach House teaches its campers,” reads an author’s note from the three young writers.

So, with the help of a few creative adults, the children’s book was polished a bit. The artwork is better and there’s a nice cover, but the sea creatures drawn and cut out by the three children remain unchanged.

If they had been updated or photoshopped or airbrushed, then it just wouldn’t have been the same. “We could make it better, but then it wouldn’t be Jingle,” explained Schell.

Courtney Seaman and Rachel Lane helped update the book, which is for sale for $10. Schell said they had 1,000 copies printed at their own cost, which means that if the book sells out, the Beach House should receive some $10,000 in donations.

The book is for sale at Kids Ketch, Kids Cottage, Browseabout Books, the Children’s Beach House  and at the Children’s Beach House website  at cbhinc.org.  Any visitors to the Kids Cottage Stocking Stuffer Showcase from 6 to 8 p.m. on December 1 will also receive a copy of the book as a parting gift.

The children will even go on a “mini book tour” this holiday season with readings being offered at the Lewes Library, Rehoboth Beach Library, the Delaware Children’s Museum and Browseabout Books.

“Now they are really proud of themselves,” Schell said.

There’s even talk of another book with the further adventures of Jingle and his fishy friends. But we’ll have to wait and see what Jingle does next.

For additional information on the Children’s Beach House or “Jingle the Giant Jellyfish Finds Christmas”, contact Amanda Ryan at the Children’s Beach House at 645-0216.

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