‘Our Mama is a Beautiful Garden’

Katy Tessman’s breast cancer book for children, “Our Mama is a Beautiful Garden,” the story of a family’s breast cancer journey as told through the innocent and sweet voices of two young brothers, has received the prestigious The Mom’s Choice Awards® (MCA) for being among the best in family-friendly media, products and services.

In an effort to help her two young boys better understand what happens when mom is diagnosed with breast cancer, Tessman authored and self-published her emotional and compelling book to help families find bravery and hope during an often dark time.

In celebration of the fifth anniversary of her book, Tessman is re-launching a second edition of “Our Mama is a Beautiful Garden” with a special family-friendly event to take place on Friday, Oct. 5 at 5 p.m. at Village Bookstore and Gifts in the Central Square Mall in Grand Rapids. Tessman will perform uplifting songs and read excerpts from her book during this author event held during the First Friday Art Walk.

“When I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 39, I was terribly shocked and saddened,” said Tessman, who has two sons, Maxwell (age three at the time) and Louis (age six at the time). “I was at a loss about how to help them through this journey called cancer.”

During her diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer, Tessman said she tried to find a book she could read to her children to help them understand what was happening to her.

“I wanted a book that instilled hope and explained the basics of cancer,” said Tessman. “I never found that book. So I decided to write a book about how you can talk about cancer to young children.”

Tessman developed the garden book theme while explaining each step of her surgeries and treatments to her sons. She told them cancer is a bad weed in the garden, and to rid a garden of weeds, people prefer pulling them rather than spraying them. Taking medicine that made her sick was hard for her boys to comprehend and difficult to explain. The garden analogy made it easier for them to understand.

The October author event is extra special for her, said Tessman, “because Grand Rapids is a second home for me.”

“Growing up, my summers were spent on Caribou Lake at my family’s lake place,” she continued. “A place where my sons have learned to love the water and woods. Even though we live in The Cities, my boys and I spend a lot of time Up North, not only because of the beauty, but because the community is so welcoming.”

As for earning the Mom’s Choice Awards Honoring Excellence Seal of Approval, Tessman said she was “thrilled.”

“MCA does great things to connect consumers, educators, and caregivers with the best products and services available for families,” she said. “I am so proud my book has received this prestigious honor.”

The MCA evaluation process uses a methodology in which entries are scored on a number of elements including production quality, design, educational value, entertainment value, originality, appeal and cost.

“Our aim is to introduce families and educators to best-in-class products and services,” explained Dawn Matheson, Executive Director of the Mom’s Choice Awards. “Parents and educators know that products and services bearing our seal of approval are high-quality and also a great value.”

The organization is based in the United States and has reviewed thousands of entries from more than 55 countries. To learn more about the Mom's Choice Awards by visiting their website www.MomsChoiceAwards.com.

Tessman has partnered with organizations such as Patterson Dental and Hope Chest for Breast Cancer to donate books to help families start a discussion on the topic of cancer. Tessman was named ChangeMaker by the Minnesota Women’s Press in recognition of her efforts to help change the universe through women’s stories.

“Our Mama is a Beautiful Garden” is available for purchase at www.katytessman.com.

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