By Sarah Hinkes
It’s not every day that I take a break from my collection of fiction romances, thrillers, and the occasional biography to read a children’s book. A book with a simplistic message that shares a rather complicated truth. In “Mikey” co-authored by Mindee Pinto and her lovely mom Judy Cohen, together they passionately advocate for children with special needs, especially those on the autism spectrum. Together they have found a way to share what the average child on the spectrum experiences day in and day out among their peers. Mindee’s message is this “Someone knows someone who knows somebody that has a child with autism.” “Mikey” is based on a fictional character, someone who voices why they may not be comfortable in everyday situations, told through the eyes of a child. “We want “Mikey” to be happy, to feel accepted, we want “Mikey” to be our friend.” Mindee, Judy, and illustrator Mark Fairbanks collaborated on this project, to help kids, but adults too. Raising awareness so everyone can understand why children on the spectrum may not always share their frustrations the way other children do and why, that is perfectly okay!
Mindee Pinto is mother to Jillian, an active eight-year old who on many days after school, practices with her swim team. While Jillian is not on the spectrum, her ability to understand kids that are, is so touching to both her mum and dad Michael Pinto. “Mom, I totally know a kid like that, now I get why he covers his ears when the bell rings.” It’s actually right there in the story of “Mikey”. That simple message demonstrated the world to Jillian and her peers, who then shared this story with their parents.
On her recent fifteen city book tour, speaking with local television, Mindee was overwhelmed with the outpouring of interest and thanks she received from appreciative listeners and readers of “Mikey.” She would like us to know that she isn’t just a mom, wife, teacher, tutor, and writer, in her free time, she enjoys a night out on the town. You may find her axe throwing with friends, or having a date night with Michael enjoying good wine, and food in one of Chicago’s gems. Mindee says, “it is fun for us to find a place that can still impress his palette.” (Michael a former chef and sommelier). Just think, if Mindee who earned a Masters from Elmhurst College, stayed as a speech therapy assistant, we may never have had the pleasure of welcoming the story of “Mikey” into our world. I am sure we are all wondering, what is next for “Mikey”. You will be happy to learn that our friend, Mikey’s next adventure is “Mikey on a Sports Team”. You can find “Mikey” available online through Amazon, and as for the next book…Stay tuned!