An Army of Hearts is a children’s book for all ages—a book that takes readers on an adventure with a little girl and her dog, both of whom rally an army of love and support across the world in order to extinguish the loneliness of a sick loved one. The book, written by Alex Duncan and illustrated by Paul Morstad, invites its reader to tumble into a fanciful world of playful watercolour images and the tale of coping with a loved one’s sickness—in this case, cancer. The book's accessible message and captivating imagery act as vessels of profound expression—embodying the things that are hardest to say.
The origins of the story are extremely personal to me as I who wrote it for my dad while he endured treatment for cancer in 2013. Coming from a large family, I found myself referring often to an “army of support”—friends, family, and other loved ones—that were ever-present for my Dad during his time of illness. I wrote the text and then proceeded to paint an abundance of red hearts and take portraits of people significant to my father—the faces of his very own army.
I presented the original copy of An Army of Hearts, to my Dad when he completed his chemotherapy and radiation treatment in 2013. The book comprised portraits of more than 200 loving supporters.