In our Spring 2021 issue, we had a chance to speak with spiritual healer and author Mary Helen Hensley, who shared the details of her new children’s book with us. ‘Hugh and the Manatee’ is a tale with a message of empathy.
Hugh and the Manatee
A children’s book with a message of empathy
by Aisling Cronin
Mary Helen Hensley is an author, healer and public speaker. Her writings on healing, love, and the afterlife have brought hope and comfort to many. I recently had the chance to speak with Mary about her children’s book, ‘Hugh and the Manatee’, which was launched just before Christmas 2020.
‘The first time I saw a manatee was in Florida, at the age of four. I went back there to commemorate my mother’s 90th birthday,’ Mary shared with me. ‘They are such beautiful creatures, and I wanted to include them in a story.’
The main character of ‘Hugh and the Manatee’ is a young boy named Hugh, who is expected to like football and stereotypically masculine activities, but prefers to engage in pastimes that are considered feminine. This catches the attention of school bullies. He and two of the bullies in question end up being led on a journey through the oceans by a magical manatee, who shows them the great diversity of gender expression in aquatic species. This helps the bullies to understand human diversity, too, and become less judgemental.
Mary said, ‘This book is the first in a series that highlights the challenges faced by LGBTQ children as they are growing up. I want to write stories in which all children can see themselves, and books which offer solutions such as understanding, compassion, inclusion and education.’
Learn more about ‘Hugh and the Manatee’, and Mary’s other works, at: