Even before the appearance of Netflix and PlayStations, books have been a beloved form of both entertainment and escapism. Books can transform your reality, making the seemingly impossible come to life. Typically, when you return a book to its shelf, the fantasy world within begins to fade from memory like a distant dream. But for 10-year-old Stella Bonner and her dad Patrick, the end of a very special book was just the beginning of their new, seemingly-fantastical reality.
Throughout her life, Stella had trouble falling asleep. Rather than approaching it as a problem that needed to be fixed, Patrick saw it as an opportunity to bond. Patrick would read book after book with Stella, helping her calm down before drifting off to sleep.
In addition to reading books, Patrick and Stella would make up stories together. One character, a girl named Ella, came up repeatedly during storytime. Ella’s magic pencil allowed her to jump into books, so with each story, the dad and daughter read together, they envisioned what sort of adventure Ella would have within the book’s pages.
“At one point, we had done it so many times that Stella said, ‘you know, it should be a book. We could write a book,’ not knowing how hard it is to write a book,” Patrick recalled to Good Morning America. “But when your kid asks you to do something, you try and do it.”
The dad-daughter duo started writing in mid-2019, bringing their story to life one chapter at a time. In May 2020, Stella and Patrick proudly released their book, Darien The Librarian. In an act of complete selflessness, Stella asked that the book’s proceeds go to charity. Patrick happily obliged. He set up a fundraiser on Facebook to support Feeding America and sent anyone who donated over $10 a free copy of their book.
Within two hours, Stella and Patrick surpassed their initial $500 goal. Donations continued pouring in, reaching a staggering total of over $27,000. True to their word and overjoyed with their admirable mission’s success, the duo donated an estimated 270,000 meals to people in need.
“It’s still amazing to think that so many people were being helped by this – this thing that we, you know, decided maybe we could use it for good.”