Children’s book sees bright side in ‘PandaMick’

Children’s book sees bright side in ‘PandaMick’

Diane Maione and her son, Michael, who helped inspire her children’s book, “I love PandaMick,” that gives a voice to a dog enjoying time home with loved ones during the pandemic.

SMITHFIELD – Speaking for those who do not have a voice is nothing new to Diane Maione who often wrote letters to school on behalf of her son who could not speak.

In her new book “I love PandaMick,” Maione writes from the voice of a dog who is excited to have his family home in quarantine during the coronavirus pandemic. The dog, Buddy, gets to spend his days with his young best friend, a panda print-wearing boy named Mick, and his father.

Maione said she was inspired by comments from her friend, who said her dog loved the fact that she was home all day even though she herself was not thrilled about it.

“I thought, of course, dogs would think this is great. Humans think this is a tragedy. But the dog is loving it,” Maione said.

Maione figured dogs also deserved a voice in the pandemic.

Though she’s never published anything before, Maione said she was a ghostwriter for her son, Adam Maione, throughout his life. Adam had cerebral palsy, and could not speak.

Adam’s “autobiographies” were sent to school with him, where a teacher could read to the class for him and tell his classmates about his life. His mom said she wrote for him from the time he was 5, or about 25 years.

“That did not mean he did not have a voice. I just wrote about his days and his summer from his voice for him,” Maione said.

Adam died in May 2019, and Maione donated his handicap equipment and personal supplies to those in need.

Maione self-published the book on Amazon, saying she felt the book is relevant now and she didn’t want to wait for a potential publisher.

Her friend and artist, Mariah Frazier of Harmony, illustrated the book. And Maione describes the partnership as a perfect match.

She said she wants people to see the silver lining of this “coronavirus cloud,” and see that even though things seem horrible, good can come from it.

“I’ve experienced the kindness of people in the neighborhood. We need to focus on that, too,” she said.

She’s gotten a few copies of the books, which she said got the approval of her 7-year-old son, Michael.

“He thinks the story is hysterical. I gave it to him. He laughs at all the funny parts of the story,” Maione said.

Michael liked the book so much that he requested a copy for himself, she said. Unfortunately, that meant the Greenville Library needed to wait another week for a copy. She expects to drop off copies at the beginning of the next week.

Maione has begun writing the sequel to “I love PandaMick,” which will follow a rescue dog enjoying life in the summer of the pandemic.