Kristina Gray, studied undergraduate Geography at Royal Holloway University of London (2000) and went on to achieve a Masters in Development Management at the London School of Economics (2001). Her career has focused on communications and fundraising for international development Non Governmental Organisations. It was not until 2015 when she authored her first children’s story, Strong and Mighty Max. Kristina is based in Warwickshire, where she lives with her husband, four children and their dog Hamish.
The lead character in the story, Max, is based on her son Samuel, who was born with a rare condition, achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism. When Samuel was born, Kristina quickly learnt that his biggest challenge in life would be other people’s perceptions of him based on presentations of dwarfism in the media and culture. As a result of this she decided to write a children’s story that would help to educate his peers about his condition and provide a positive role model for children born with rare conditions.
Strong and Mighty Max edition one proved to be popular all around the world with parents of children born with achondroplasia ordering copies to take to their children’s nurseries and schools. Libraries in the UK have also stocked the story as a result of the Restricted Growth Association’s, national campaign.
The huge popularity of edition one of Strong and Mighty Max has led to a revised edition of the story which features a new character called Katy, and has specifically been geared towards educating children in classroom settings about differences in general and not just dwarfism.
The messaging of the story and educational activities teach kindness and the importance of education to foster understanding towards others who are born different. The learning activities in the back of the picture book focus on a variety of visible and invisible differences which include: dwarfism, fragile x syndrome, type 1 diabetes, hair colour, skin colour, dyslexia and more!