ROB MURRAY: I’m speaking with Mandi and Hana Kujawa. We’re here to talk about a book you wrote together as a mother-daughter team called A Slug Story, released by local publisher Renegade Arts Entertainment. I understand the book just won a very prestigious award. What can you tell us about it?

HANA KUJAWA: It just won the Egghead Award!

MANDI KUJAWA: It’s one of the Doug Wright Awards for children’s literature.

RM: What were you feeling about that big win?

MK: It was amazing to be selected, the biggest reason is because it has a better chance of maybe reaching some kids that might really benefit from it, and some adults.

RM: For those who might have missed our first interview, what is A Slug Story all about?

MK: It’s about a little boy who feels average and doesn’t quite know what to do in a world that celebrates exceptional experiences and exceptional people. Then he has a health crisis on top of that, and it’s about him coping with that crisis and finding ways to live with being an average kid.

RM: I believe this was based on your own personal experience. Hana?

HK: Partway through art school I developed a strange brain injury and they didn’t know what it was. Quite a bit later, we figured out it was epilepsy. That was where we learned a lot about the challenges of getting an illness or a disability.

MK: One of the most beautiful things for us was being able to give the book to people that kind of saved our lives while we were going through that time. It was an amazing way to say thank you to those people.

RM: Mandi, I understand in a roundabout way at the book’s actually helped you out too recently?

MK: When the book was being published, Hana’s health crisis was a little bit diminished. She was able to go back to university. That was all wonderful. Then I started having neurological symptoms and was sent to a neurologist as well. That was a huge blow, after going through Hana’s medical crisis, to be in my own medical crisis. Having this book, having the pictures from Claude come in the email, it was sustaining to see that there was this project going on even when I was helpless and bedridden. It also made me aware, like with Hana, the kindness of people would save the day. Like, one kind comment in a day could just buoy us, so in my own health crisis I just kind of looked for those people that were like that.

RM: Any future plans for more collaborations, or maybe some more solo books that you’re working on right now?

MK: I have another idea for a ghost story that I really want to work on and I’m secretly hoping that Hana will join me in that pursuit, because two heads are better than one and it’s more fun. She’s also very discerning. She’ll tell me “No, that’s not good mom.” I think it’ll be a better project if the two of us work on it.

HK: Right now I’m working on a lot of school projects, so I’m kind of busy there, but we’ll see if mom can convince me to work on this next project.

RM: Where can people pick this one up locally?

MK: Café Books.

RM: They can also check out the Renegade Arts Entertainment website for details on online orders. I have to say, my oldest son Ben read this book. He has Type 1 Diabetes, and I think the story really resonated with him as well, so thank you so much for writing it and sharing this very important story with everybody.

MK: Oh, that means a lot. Thank you Rob.