The Columbus Dispatch
7-year-old author writes about blindness in new book
Seven-year-old Peter Heath has been busy lately signing autographs and talking to fans of his new book, “The Adventures of Marshmallow and Peter.”
“It’s from the point of view of his white cane,” his mother, Beth, explained.
Peter has named his cane Marshmallow, and he uses it to help compensate for the loss of his vision, which was stolen from him by Batten disease. Peter has a variation of the illness known as CLN3, a rare genetic disorder.
“A year ago, he was diagnosed,” Beth said. “We found out because he had lost a significant amount of his vision in his first-grade year when he was 6, turning 7.”
Batten disease from Marshmallow's perspective
Aside from being a published author, Peter is a typical second grader. He attends Mcmullen Elementary School in Loudonville. He plays soccer, studies karate and loves horses.
Then, on May 12, 2022, he learned that Batten disease was making him go blind.
“One of the things that he’s wanted to do for a number of years is write a book,” his mother said. “He kept talking about it and talking about it.”
As he relied upon his cane more and more, Peter realized his trusty tool was experiencing the effects of Batten disease, too. He decided that Marshmallow’s perspective in the story would be very interesting for readers.
“That’s where the idea of ‘The Adventures of Marshmallow and Peter’ came from,” Beth said.
‘A great resource for teaching other students'
In the book, Marshmallow the cane talks about helping Peter through the day. The duo meet a mobility therapist, study braille and visit a horse ranch.
“It’s sort of become a way to teach people that just because you’re blind doesn’t mean you can’t participate in different things,” Beth said.
The book has been inspiring to everyone who has read it, especially other children who have also encountered obstacles in life.
“We’ve had a number of people thank us and and say it’s a great resource for teaching other students about how blind students see the world, and some of the therapies that they interact with,” Beth said.
‘Book signing for him is a little bit different'
The book is 27 pages and came out May 3. It was published by a children’s entertainment company called “The Adventures of Pookie.”
Peter’s book is available in Barnes and Noble stores as well as online through Amazon.com.
In the three weeks since it was published, the book has become a favorite of many residents of the Mohican area. Earlier this month, Peter met with dozens of readers of all ages at the Loudonville Public Library.
“Book signing for him is a little bit different than it would be for somebody who is sighted,” Beth said.
Beth and her husband, Joe, who is Peter’s father, found a signature their boy had written last year while he could still see, and they had it made into a stamp. Peter signs his books now by placing the stamp into ink and then pressing it onto a page of the books.
“He has braille stickers that say ‘love Peter’ that he puts into the books as well,” Beth said.
The tour will continue throughout the spring.
“He’s going to have a little book signing at his karate studio,” Beth said. “We’re going to go see family. He enjoys that.”
‘Marshmallow's adventures in Disney'
As Marshmallow helps Peter travel the state this spring, the friends cannot help but think about ways to follow up their hit book.
“He wants to do another book,” Beth said.
The topic will likely be the Disney trip the Heath family took this January, thanks to help from the Make-a-wish Foundation.
“I think that over our summer break, he’s going to work on Marshmallow’s adventures in Disney,” Beth said. “He’s excited.” firstname.lastname@example.org 419-564-3508