First-time author wins award for children’s book

Written by Joe Dean of Port and illustrated by Lauren Curwick, ‘My Dog Name Hope’ receives acclaim, raises $50,000 for cancer research

PORT WASHINGTON AUTHOR Joe Dean and illustrator Lauren Curwick, a pediatric oncology student at the Medical College of Wisconsin, showed off their book, “A Dog Named Hope,” which recently won a silver award during the Independent Book Publisher’s Association’s 30th annual Benjamin Franklin Awards event. The book, which tells the story of a girl going through treatment for childhood cancer, has raised $50,000 for pediatric cancer research and services. Press file photo
Ozaukee Press Staff

Port Washington children’s book author Joe Dean received a silver award from the Independent Book Publisher’s Association for his book, “My Dog Named Hope.”

The book was one of nearly 1,500 entries in 54 categories considered by the association. It was selected for the award by a panel of librarians, booksellers and design and editorial experts.

Dean said he believes the illustrations by Lauren Curwick, a student at the Medical College of Wisconsin, set the book apart from the crowd, noting it won the award for overall design excellence.

“All the illustrations are hand-drawn, and Lauren really captured the spirit of Hope the dog,” he said. “Just the expressions on the dog’s face really tell the story.”

The story centers on a girl named Lindsay who is being treated for leukemia, her family and friends and most of all her dog Hope.  In basic terms, the book explains cancer and treatments, about the challenges and the bright spots that come along the way.

One reviewer said the book is “a whimsical view of a difficult subject,” Dean said — a description he believes is apt.

While the award is nice, Dean said, it’s not why he wrote the book. 

The book was released in August as a way to draw attention to childhood cancer and raise money for research into the disease.

 “One of the reasons I’m excited about this award is it helps us increase awareness of this,” Dean said.

So far, Dean said, the book has raised more than $50,000, which is split between Designing Dreams, a nonprofit group founded by Curwick that redesigns bedrooms for young cancer patients, and the MACC Fund, which has contributed $62 million to fight childhood cancer and blood disorders since it was founded 41 years ago.

Because the cost of the book was underwritten by the We Energies Foundation, all proceeds go to pediatric cancer research and services, Dean noted.

While children enjoy the book, Dean said, many adults find comfort in the more subtle symbolism in it, such as the fact that Hope gets lost but is never far away from his owner.

“Parents like the message that hope is always close,” he said.

“We can’t act with enough urgency on this. Every day, we’re getting closer to a cure.”

Dean said his passion to contribute to childhood cancer research was awakened when, as a senior advisor to Sen. Ron Johnson, he met with parents who had lost their children to cancer.

The book award has gotten Dean thinking about another possible way to raise money for cancer research.

“We’ve been dreaming about finding a foundation to design and produce a plush dog based on Hope,” he said, noting the stuffed animal would have a pocket where a hot or cold pack could be inserted so children undergoing treatment would be soothed when they hug the animal.

“We’re just dreaming about it now,” he said. “That might be the next step.”

Until then, Dean is spending much of his time crisscrossing the state selling his book and talking about childhood cancer.

For more information or to order a copy of the book, visit For information on Designing Dreams, visit



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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