Local author seeks community support for Ukrainian language version of debut book

Published 10:30 am Thursday, September 28, 2023

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Jessamine County author and public health nurse Jodie Campbell will soon receive her first round of copies of her debut children’s book, “There Was A Zookeeper.”

Campbell is now working on releasing a Ukrainian version, and she asks community members to help make it happen.

“It’s surreal. I did get a proof of the book in the mail. It was a hard-back proof, but it was handmade, so the printed version will be so much better to show all the pages in place and everything. I admit that I started crying when I opened it. I was like, ‘Oh, my goodness. Here it is.’” Campbell said.

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The book is filled with personal details close to Campbell’s heart. Two characters, Harper Lou Kangaroo and Blaire Bear, are named after her two granddaughters. Harper Lou Kangaroo wears glasses, just like her granddaughter Harper, and Blaire’s character wears bows- just like she does.

This book was made possible by Campbell’s nearly lifelong love of writing children’s stories and the Kyiv, Ukraine-based Illustrator who brought her characters to life – Alexey Chystikov.

“Working with Alexey has opened my eyes to a violent struggle happening a world away,” Campbell said. “Alexey is one of many people living in a country under constant fear and attack. Meanwhile, he simply wants to work, create art, and make children smile. That is an inspiration to me.”

To highlight the “story behind the story,” Campbell created a section on the book’s last page that includes her and Chystikov’s respective bios and a column about Chystikov’s story.

“This book is personal to me now. I just want this documented cause one day, I’m going to be gone, and I want this to be a part of my book. His journey has been a huge part of my book, more than I ever imagined. So he sent me a picture of him working on his computer, and then there’s a picture of me holding up one of his sketches. I just wanted to document that,” Campbell said.

Chystikov is not Campbell’s first connection to Ukraine. However, he is her closest, as a partner on the book and a close family friend of Campbell’s.

As a public health nurse, she has served Ukrainian refugees at the Jessamine County Health Department (JCHD) for about a year.

So, as she waited for her books to arrive, Campbell was inspired by her desire to help the Ukrainian community in the area and a Ukrainian mother whom she met as a patient during an appointment at the JCHD.

According to Campbell, this woman’s face lit up when she heard of the author’s connection to Ukraine. She immediately asked, “Will the book be published in Ukrainian?”

Campbell had never thought about this before, but now, she wanted to make it happen.

“I just wanted to do something kind because they’ve been through so much. They leave their homeland, come to a fringe land, and don’t even speak our language. Some of them do, but some of them don’t. But it’s just like an act of kindness,” Campbell said.

She now has a new goal: to get the books into the hands of businesses that see Ukrainian families daily.

Unfortunately, after printing the English version of the book, she couldn’t afford to pay for the translation and printing of a Ukrainian version. Then, an idea struck.

“I thought I could get area sponsors to help me pay so that I can print a Ukrainian version, and we could gift those back to (Ukrainian refugees in America) and also give a certain amount of the proceeds to Chystikov,” Campbell said.

And that’s what she’s been doing for two weeks now. She met with three sponsors already and a fourth one last week.

Anyone can become a sponsor for the Ukrainian version, and Campbell has planned sponsorship prizes for each level. Once she has raised enough, Campbell will purchase 2,000 Ukrainian versions of the book:

Bronze Sponsorship – $500: This sponsorship level will put the sponsors’ names on the author’s website and social media accounts. They will receive a complimentary Ukrainian version of the book autographed by Campbell.

Silver Sponsorship – $750: This level of sponsorship puts the sponsors’ names on the book’s sponsor page, highlights the sponsor’s name on the author’s website and social media accounts, will receive two complimentary books (one in Ukrainian, one in English) autographed by Campbell and has the option to purchase the Ukrainian version of the book for a discount of 15 percent off the retail price (15 percent discount = $16.96 each.).

Gold Sponsorship – $1,000: This level will include the sponsors’ names and/ or logo on the book’s sponsor page, their name and logo on the author’s website and social media accounts, four complimentary books (two in Ukrainian, two in English), and the option to purchase the Ukrainian version of the book with a discount of 25 percent off the retail price (25 percent discount = $14.97 each).

For anyone interested in sponsorship, Campbell’s Venmo is @Jodie-Campbell-6. Credit/debit payments can be made through her website, www.jodie-campbell.com. To send a check, contact Campbell at jodiecampbellauthor@yahoo.com.