Lotus' story presented a dilemma for me: I wanted to show the 'real' story, not some idealized, inspirational version of it. But in fact, there's a legitimately inspirational dimension to what actually happened, both for Lotus and for Dr. Don, and hopefully, for those who read the book. Because this book is intended to shed light on, and provide some measure of relief for, a particular segment of people who live with physical disability: those who are both disabled and unable to get adequate medical care or adaptive equipment, it is told in an especially hopeful way.
But it's also important to note that what Lotus did when she got her wheelchair was up to her. I hope Lotus will be seen for what she is: a young woman who was given an opportunity and figured out how to make the most of it for herself and her family. If young readers are inspired by her story, I hope it will be a grounded inspiration: Lotus is a real girl. She really got sick. She really is poor. She really made things better for herself when she had the chance to do so. There is no sainthood being conferred; just a recognition that we can all use a little extra help sometimes, and that a little help, coupled with a measure of effort can get things going in a different direction.
Every purchase of Wings for a Flower is providing funds for more wheelchairs to get people off the ground. There are countless stories of people who have been able to move on to more productive activities once they're more independent and more connected with their communities after receiving a wheelchair.
Maybe one day we'll be reading a children's book written and illustrated by one of those people - I hope so!
Meantime, you can read more about disability and children's literature at:
AND more about children and disability around the world in the 2013 UNICEF report "State of the World's Children, Children with Disabilites": See the child - before the disability.