Dylan The Dolphin
Written by Hannah Rose Garner
Illustrated by Bethany Evelyn Wade
Dylan The Dolphin is a colorful children’s book about embracing your differences, facing your fears, and standing up to your biggest bully-
Reading my children's book "Dylan The Dolphin"
A Deep Dive In-Between The Lines
Dylan The Dolphin is the story of a lonely Dolphin with 6 flippers and severe social anxiety. Dylan worries that the other sea creatures might not like him and has been unable to swim because he is paralyzed by his fears.
An unlikely friend notices that Dylan is always playing by himself and approaches him to offer some words of encouragement. Dylan develops a new mindset through their conversation and gains the confidence he needed to overcome his insecurities and face his fears.
Ironically, the self-isolation Dylan puts himself through as a means of protecting his mental health, actually makes it worse. He has become consumed by loneliness, a desire to be loved, and a longing for connection. It takes the advice of an unlikely friend to inspire Dylan to face his fears. He realizes that there is no point in hiding from the chance of being rejected by the world. His true despair actually stemmed from his efforts to preserve his happiness because all that did was guarantee a life of loneliness. His obsession with chasing after this unconventional idea of happiness and peace is what made him so depressed, antisocial, and anxious all the time.
Being vulnerable and risking a chance at rejection was Dylan’s only real shot at forming any kind of connection with the animals around him. A lightbulb went off in Dylan’s little dolphin brain (well, technically big dolphin brain because they tend to be very large) and he began to see a new path to happiness, one that felt authentic and within reach. Dylan discovered that all of his fears existed exclusively within his own mind when he finally made an attempt at connecting with the other creatures of the sea. All of the animals embraced Dylan with open arms (and flippers). As it turns out, all this time the other animals thought Dylan didn’t want to play with them because he didn’t want to be their friend.
I wanted to subtly show my readers how the ego can distort our sense of reality. We all worry about what other people think about us and fear getting hurt by them. However, we can’t let those fears get in the way of us taking our relationships to a deeper level and establishing a sense of community with one another. The irony of this main character syndrome where we walk around consumed by our own insecurities, paranoid that others are judging us; is that those people you’re walking by are thinking the same exact thing as you. No one is thinking about you, they are too busy thinking of themselves, their own insecurities, and worrying about how they are being perceived by you. The assumption that everybody is constantly judging you is based upon a projection of your own insecurities, the only way to stop fearing the judgment of others is to stop judging ourselves.
We deserve to love ourselves unconditionally, we deserve grace, and we deserve relationships wherein vulnerability isn’t something to be scared of, but rather something to cherish.
When Dylan found the courage to embrace his differences, they became the source of his true power. I used to see vulnerability as a weakness, but now I see it as a strength. It's easy to put up walls, but what's really hard is breaking them down.
Whenever you feel paralyzed by your fears, remember that you have nothing to lose, but everything to gain by making the choice to swim.
The Story Behind The Story
My name is Hannah Rose Garner, though I am best known by my stage name "Hana Katana".
I was working at a pre-school in Malibu called “Wagon Wheel” when I first came up with the idea for Dylan The Dolphin. I was doing an activity with the “Dolphin” class where we were all making our own books. This was something I loved to do as a kid because it was my dream to create stories that other people wanted to hear. I decided to share this craft with my students and as I was passing out the paper I heard a tiny voice say, “Teacher Hannah! Are you going to make a book too?!”
This is how Dylan The Dolphin was born.
The character was partially inspired by 2 of my students who were diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD for short). Around this time I had gotten more involved with their shadow teachers and learned all that I could from them so that I could become a better teacher to my students with ASD.
Ironically, Autism became a special interest of mine and is what lead me to realize that I was also on the spectrum and that I had subconsciously written Dylan The Dolphin about my own internal battle with rejection sensitivity. I am now very passionate about making the world a better, more understanding, and compassionate place for children with ASD. This is why a portion of the proceeds from Dylan The Dolphin is donated to my non-profit organization, The Dolfriends Foundation.
I created The Dolfriends Foundation to ensure that children with Autism Spectrum Disorder aged 2-7 who come from low-income families get the financial assistance they need. With the help of my non-profit, these families will be able to hire a shadow teacher and/or special needs caregiver. I saw how greatly shadow teachers helped my autistic students in the classroom and wanted to find a way to help more families get access to the extra care their children needed but couldn’t afford.
Teaching taught me that early childhood education sets the foundation for the rest of every child’s life. The earlier on you’re able to create a solid foundation for a child with Autism, the more likely the child is to become an independent living adult. If there are families that already can’t afford to hire a shadow teacher for their child on the spectrum, there’s no way they can afford to support their child well into their adult life.
My program is not to be confused with ABA (applied behavioral analysis) whose main goal seems to be teaching autistic children how to appear more "high functioning" & mask their autistic traits. Shadow teachers can prove to be very helpful to have around during early childhood because they are simply more educated than the average parent, teacher, or babysitter on how the autistic brain works. My goal is not to manipulate autistic children into coming across as more "high functioning" but rather to give them a better chance at becoming independent living adults all while embracing their stims, special interests, and all.
The talented Illustrator of Dylan The Dolphin, Miss Bethany Evelyn Wade, captured my vision perfectly. Her one-of-a-kind art style & playful colors truly brought the story to life.
If you are interested in seeing more of her work you can visit her website https://www.bethanyevelynart.co.uk/
My goal with my children's books & publishing company is to offer a new perspective to people. Through my art, I aspire to open the eyes, hearts, and minds of everyone. I don’t want my art to be limited in any way, I have something to teach and share with people from all walks of life. I make art for children, but I also make art for adults. Even though Dylan The Dolphin is a children’s book, I believe that it has the capability to speak to the inner child within everyone. The most timeless forms of art speak to all in different ways, there is no age or language barrier. Art like that can really bring people together and at the end of the day, nothing would make me happier than to know that people are connecting with one another through my art.