In the summer of 2019, Mr. Leonardo Čeči Baksa, author of many children’s stories and lyricist of numerous music hits, came to the Ana Rukavina Foundation with a story he wanted to donate to the Ana Rukavina Foundation to encourage and give hope to small patients struggling with malignant diseases.
The story of little girl Tonka immediately won us over, all the more so as it is based on the personal experience of a Mr. Čeči family member.
As we did not have experience in publishing books, our dear Mrs. Snježana Marić from Školska knjiga came to our aid with the whole team, who were of immense help to us.
In addition to advice, contacts, donation of a part of the picture book, they helped us with their humanity, enthusiasm and desire for the whole project to succeed and the book to reach those who need it most, and these are children who are currently fighting the fight that no child should lead.
The illustrator, Mrs. Branka Hollingsworth Nara embellished our book and gave Tonka and her friends faces that children will love.
We want the little patients to gain hope and encouragement through the character of Tonka, the belief that in the end everything will be fine and that they have a bright future ahead of them.
Empathy and compassion should be learned from an early age, and that is exactly our goal – that the child who has gone through this difficult struggle, upon returning to his “normal” environment is not stigmatized, but accepted and loved.
In addition, we must not forget that the disease is unfortunately encountered by the whole family and friends of the sick person, so we wanted this book to be a motive for those who are healthy to understand what the sick person is going through and help them return to everyday life.
The aim of this picture book is to show doctors as „one of us“, those who are our greatest allies and comrades in the most difficult battles and everything we go through, encouraging us and fighting for our health.
The book was published after the earthquake in Zagreb, and we planned the promotion in the spring, but we were prevented by the pandemic of the COVID-19 disease.
We distributed this beautiful book to all children’s oncology departments in the Republic of Croatia.
We also donated the book to all the children’s libraries, reading rooms and school libraries that showed interest – and the interest was great.
You can download Tonka’s Big Friend book here.