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Young author’s book tour comes to South March | RatChatter

Young author’s book tour comes to South March

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Apr 18, 2013 in Rat News | Subscribe

The gym at South
March Public
School was silent as eight-year-old Tommy Glatzmayer read from a book on Friday, March 25.

The 400-plus students and staff
then gave Tommy and his sister Melanie a standing ovation.

The Grade 2 student from St. Leonard Catholic Elementary School
in Manotick co-wrote Melanie Tommy Have Two Pet Rats and One Syndrome with his mother, Nathalie Wendling, at the age of six to
educate children who were teasing his big sister.

“I felt a bit excited and really
happy we were going to start selling the book and everyone was going to stop
making fun of Melanie,” said Tommy.

One student asked why children
were making fun of Melanie.

“Because she’s a lot different
than the other kids at school,” said Tommy.

Melanie, 10, has Cornelia
de Lange syndrome (CdLS), a rare disorder where there are noticeable differences
facial characteristics, which include a short-turned up nose and low set ears.

“A syndrome is when you’re a little bit different than
someone,” said Tommy in response to a question about what a syndrome is. “You
can’t hear well, you can’t see well and you need a lot of help to do those

There are only around 100 known cases of CdLS in Canada,
said Wendling.



Tommy began writing short stories as a kindergarten student,
all with a boy, a girl, a villain, a car crash and pet rats that save the day.

One day, he came home in tears after children at school had
teased Melanie, said Wendling. So she decided to
self-publish one of the books to help explain the syndrome and include
educational facts about CdLS so parents could teach their children not to make
fun of others for being different.

“I didn’t think about it, I just
tried to publish it is as quickly as possible,” said Wendling.

“I think the crucial ages are
grades 1 and 2. They teased because they didn’t understand.”

The book follows Tommy and Melanie
on a road trip where they go on a few adventures, get into mishaps and are
saved by their pet rats.

Melanie and Tommy said their
favourite part and the hardest part about publishing the book was posing for
the photographs, which took about eight hours to complete.

The book has already sold over
3,000 copies and has been picked up by Costco’s Children’s Miracle Network
fundraiser, which takes place during the month of May, said Wendling. She added
she’s surprised by the book’s success.

“We had planned to do around one
presentation a month,” she said. “Now we’re up to at least one a week.”

The students at South March
enjoyed the presentation, howling with laughter during a short video starring
Melanie and Tommy’s pet rats Ninja, Smokey and Cinderella.

“I like it when they laugh at the
video,” said Tommy.

When asked how they managed to
get the rats to ham it up for the camera – like taking popcorn, playing
foosball and chasing Tommy down a hallway – he replied with “A lot of apply

“Was your mom afraid no one would
like the book?” asked one student.

“Yes,” replied Tommy.

“Were you?” asked the student.

“No,” answered Tommy.

Two students compared shoe sizes
with Melanie; a 10-year-old girl and a five-year-old boy. Melanie’s feet were
the same size as the boy half her age.

Even though it can be difficult
to sit in front of hundreds of students during the presentation, Melanie said
she enjoys accompanying her brother when he speaks to schools.

“I like it, getting to meet kids,
laughing,” said Melanie, who has undergone 12 operations in her short life.

Tommy said his favourite part of
the presentations is teaching kids about Melanie and CdLS.

“(The kids) get to learn more
about Melanie’s syndrome,” said Tommy, who added the presentation at South
March was his sixth event. “It’s really easy, I like public speaking.”

Principle Dorothy Baker
asked the students to raise their hands if they’d seen a student get made fun
of or had ever made fun of someone. Almost all the hands went up.

“What I want you to think about today is that Tommy and
Melanie were in the same situation you just described for me today,” said
Baker. “You can make this a much better place to be like Tommy did for his

Wendling said they are in the
process of writing and publishing a second book, but is not setting a date.

“It’s a lot of work,” she said.
“I don’t know when this one will come out.”

For more information about CdLS,
the book or to watch the rat video, visit the website at www.2petrats.com.


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