People are abuzz over this sweet same-gender love story that could soon be a book.

If you're a parent who's sick of the damsels-in-distress trope, a new fantasy kids' book is probably right up your alley.

Image by "Maiden Voyage"/Kickstarter.

"Maiden Voyage" begins when Ru inherits her fisherman father's mysterious map. Curious, she sets sail on Captain Freya's boat, and the two fend off pirates and a wicked queen as they conquer the high seas — falling for each other in the process.


Ru and Captain Freya. Image by "Maiden Voyage"/Kickstarter.

The story, aimed at 5- to 10-year-olds, is already creating buzz online, drawing praise from celebrities like George Takei and Sir Ian McKellen for filling an egregious void in kids' lit.

The tale features interracial, same-gender love, which is far too uncommon in children's literature.

"It’s important for young people to feel included, that they have a place in the world and something they can relate to," Jaimee Poipoi, who identifies as Takatāpui (a Māori term used to describe same-gender attraction), said in a statement. She co-authored the book alongside fellow LGBTQ New Zealanders Chaz Harris and Adam Reynolds.

Authors Adam Reynolds, Chaz Harris, and Jaimee Poipoi. Image by "Maiden Voyage"/Kickstarter.

"Maiden Voyage" is the follow-up to Harris and Reynolds' "Promised Land," a love story about a prince and farm boy that went viral last year.

Along with highlighting LGBTQ characters, another inspiration behind "Maiden Voyage" was curbing the gender imbalance so prevalent in children's media.

A 2011 Florida State University study found that of 6,000 picture books published between 1990–2000, no more than 33% of the stories in any given year featured a female character. (Male characters appeared in 100%.)

Changing the way women and girls are portrayed in books was important too, Harris noted: "As with our first book, we wanted to avoid the ‘damsels in distress’ trope and continue being inclusive of people of color who are still hugely underrepresented in children’s books."

"Girls need to grow up knowing they can be a powerful queen, a brave sea captain, or anything else they set their minds to," Harris said.

Farm boy Jack and Prince Leo; Ru and Captain Freya. Image courtesy of "Promised Land"/Kickstarter and "Maiden Voyage"/Kickstarter.

"Maiden Voyage" is currently seeking to raise $28,000 by its fundraising deadline on Nov. 14, 2017.

Once the book is published, supporters can get paperback and e-versions of the tale, as well as coloring sheets of the characters and other neat rewards.

"We invite you to step aboard and join us on this journey to bring a little more kindness and love into the world," the Kickstarter page reads. "Because love is love, and everyone deserves to live happily ever after."

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Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

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