The Perceptions Anthology: Special Needs

  Braydon burst into laughter. Today was his tenth birthday. He couldn’t stop smiling. Memories of his last birthday party had faded a long time ago. He had been four years old. He’d loved dinosaurs and was an only child then.

  Every year he was given a different, yet equally lame, excuse. His parents claimed they were too poor, too busy, or too something. Brayden knew the truth—all they cared about was Katie.

  Brayden’s little sister, Katie, was five years old and had Down syndrome. His parents’ lives revolved around Katie. Last year, they actually forgot it was his birthday, until he reminded them at bedtime.  They promised to make it up to him.

-Excerpt from Monster-Shark, my contribution to the Perceptions Anthology: Special Needs by Inklings Publishing, a collection of stories for educators, teachers, and students that include characters with special needs.


I’m honored to be included in this anthology. Growing up with a brother with Asperger’s Syndrome (years before this form of autism had an official name), I wanted to write a story representing kids who feel unnoticed because the special needs of their brother or sister take up much of their parents’ attention, time, and money.

I also interviewed a friend of mine, the mother of a sweet boy named Enzo, who has Cri du Chat syndrome and she told me, with tears in her eyes, about what often happens when Enzo plays with other children in restaurant play areas. They always make him “it” and run away from him, screaming. He has fun, but it breaks her heart. Then I interviewed some kids under twelve and asked them about what games they could think of to play that would include kids with special conditions like Enzo’s.

Monster-Shark was the result.

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Learn more about Cri Du Chat Awareness Week– May 1-7.

Happy Lunar New Year!

Shu Rui’s house is not far. There are no sidewalks, but the streets are wide. They’re filled with people because everyone comes home for the fifteen-day celebration of Chinese New Year. It’s The Year of the Tiger, 1998.

I was born in 1989, The Year of the Snake. Everyone says that’s why I talk so much. Grandma always tells me,

Child, you were born under a sign of wisdom. Remember, wisdom is attained by three methods: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience, which is the bitterest.

Find out more about Chinese New Year in The Baiji.

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One of my author pals wrote a fabulous story for Halloween to share with the world. What a treat! I mean, what’s scarier than clowns, right? I love the quote at the beginning. (I’m a quote junkie and I don’t want cured, thank you very much.)

This evil in your eyes is this evil in disguise.
– Legacy of the Grave

Cool, huh? Yeah, and it just gets better. Read it for yourself and follow Ethan A. Cooper on Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon!
Here’s another blog post on Ethan’s work.

Content Advisory: Silliness, Violence, Clown



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The Scientist | Coldplay Acoustic Cover | Narvaez Music Covers | REALITYCHANGERS

Kids are awesome! Life is hard, and they bring such raw joy and renewed perspective. I know a lot of amazing kids. One of them is named Enzo. He was born with Cri-du-chat syndrome and he’s my hero. If you met Enzo, you’d understand. Not only is he a sweetheart, he’s got a contagious smile. I’m so proud of this dude. (And his awesome parents.)

In my short story, Monster-Shark, Enzo plays a cameo role. He inspires a group of kids to include children with special needs into their games.


If you’re in the Houston area, consider joining me for the Perceptions Series: Special Needs Book Release Party this Saturday! Or you can buy a copy here! Thanks!

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New Anthology Featuring Children With Special Needs Available Soon!

“Hey! Let’s play a new kind of tag!”

“What’s it called?” Ethan asked with earnest curiosity.

Brayden tried to pretend he hadn’t just made up the game in his head.

“Uh . . . it’s called . . . shark tag.”

“How do you play?” Chloe asked. The rest of the kids quieted so they could hear Brayden explain the game. When he saw all their eyes staring at him, his palms began to sweat. He took a deep breath.

“Well, everyone hides. One person is it. When you’re found, then you’re it.”

“That’s not new! Everyone’s played that game,” Ethan complained.

“No, this is different. When you’re found, you’re both it. You stay together and everyone you find becomes it, too. The it grows bigger and bigger,” Brayden answered.

-excerpt from “Monster-Shark” by D. Marie Prokop, The Perceptions Anthology: Special Needs by Inklings Publishing


I’m so pleased to announce that the Perceptions Anthology: Special Needs is being released on October 8th! I honored that my story, Monster-Shark, is a part of this unique collection of short stories.

Each story includes characters with special needs, which is an under-represented group in children’s literature in general. I interviewed a special needs mom and used my own experience of growing up with a special needs sibling to create Monster-Shark, as well as asking elementary-aged kids some probing questions about how they could include everyone when they play together.

This story was a group effort, ironically, a lot like shark tag.

Here’s what Inklings Children’s Division has to say about the new anthology-

New Anthology Series Debuts:

The Perceptions Series will debut with volume one, Special Needs.  This new anthology series will feature topics of interest for children.  With stories and poems from a variety of wonderful children’s authors, the first book explores issues in living with disabilities.  As always in the children’s division, the book will include discussion questions and extension activities to enhance the reading.

This volume is a fabulous resource for educators and parents. Please check it out!

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Book Review of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

The Cursed Child is a rehashing of the HP world, an epilogue, if you will, in screenplay format. Will everyone like it? No. Did I? Yes. Why, you ask? (Pretend I’m answering in a British accent, thereby sounding way more professorial and magical than I am.)

Why did I, D. Marie Prokop, like The Cursed Child?

Because, like the most recent version of Harry Potter, I’m a middle-aged, tired, over-worked parent who, deep-down, really wants her kids to like her. I also miss the glory days of inhaling children’s and YA literature as easy to digest and as undeniably delicious as Harry Potter. Though I am NOT off sweets as an adult, there are many things I miss about being young. As a parent of teens, The Cursed Child felt like J.K. included me in the story this time also. There were tears and stuff. Grown-up, muggle-style ones…

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is unrivaled, in my opinion. Her fantasy story about an adolescent misfit wizard inspired millions of children to read fiction. Respect is due. And I hate to let a good story end. Therefore, I thoroughly enjoyed this epilogue-of-sorts. I also appreciated the format. I read a LOT, but I have a jam-packed life, and screenplays are much easier to digest quickly. I took it slow simply because I have a stubborn side that didn’t want the magic to stop. Again.

Anyway, I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so I won’t go into details. I’ll suffice it to say, the story was okay. Not fantastic, but okay. It was new-ish, with gobs of nostalgia to take you back in time without a time-turner. Remember Bane, Platform Nine and ¾, Dolores Umbridge, Cedric Diggory, the Mauraders Map, Moaning Myrtle, and the Invisibility Cloak?

Good times . . . again.

Quote #1

TROLLEY WITCH: These hands have made over six million Pumpkin Pasties. I’ve gotten quite good at them. But what people haven’t noticed about my Pumpkin Pasties is how easily they transform into something else . . .

She picks up a Pumpkin Pasty. She throws it like a grenade. It explodes.

Quote #2

HARRY: You really think this could all mean something?

HERMIONE (with a smile): It could do. But if it does, we’ll find a way to fight it, Harry. We always have.

 Harry Potter And The Cursed Child: The Play


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Only With The Heart

One book in particular caught her eye.  The title had faded golden letters—The Little Prince.   She opened the thin volume and began reading.

It was a quirky children’s fantasy story, but Hani fell in love with the demure, charming, lost little prince from the very first page.  The narrator, a pilot who crashed his plane in the desert, befriends a stranger, a little golden-haired boy who claims he came from another planet.  The pilot listens as the prince tells him all about his planet and his special concern for a flower, the rose he has sworn to protect.

The little prince shares his deepest thoughts with the pilot, claiming grown-ups are too serious and miss what’s important.  The prince claims life is sometimes too mysterious to understand and one must accept both the mystery with the reality.

And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly,” Hani read.


The Little Prince is now a Netflix Original Movie. Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s fantastical tale is reimagined and retold for a new generation. I highly recommend reading the book. Its whimsical story is paired with original watercolor pictures drawn by the author, a celebrated French novelist, journalist, and pilot.

The movie attempts to depict to this imaginative story in a new way, but while beautiful on the screen, movies fail to let people exercise their individual imaginations, which is partly the point of the story  to begin with. I may be too “grown-up” in my opinion, but this story is close to my heart and highly revered, which is why I shared it in The Red Knot. It’s also difficult to support the movie’s additional plot of a little girl blindly befriending a weird old man and then lying about spending time with him to her mother.  Um… stranger danger? If only they had made him her grandfather or something. It was slightly creepy, honestly. And dangerous in reality.  But the fox, the rose, the snake, the aviator, and The Little Prince were brilliant and magically portrayed. The message of what is essential came across and that’s what really matters.

See with your heart!