One of the things I love about the military community is how proactive many of us tend to be. We are doers. We see a problem, and we do something about it.
That's exactly how Pennsylvania Air National Guard Master Sgt. Benjamin Hemme and his wife Susan Hemme ended up putting together a book aimed at chasing the monsters out from closest and from under children's beds. They saw a need and they thought "we can do something about that."
It all started, they say, during one of Hemme's Iraq deployments. A fellow airman was upset because his daughter was afraid of the monsters under her bed, and he wasn't there to do his solemn Monster Chasing Daddy Duties. A few years later Susan Hemme had a similar conversation with a military spouse stationed in Germany. Deployed service member meant sleepless nights because there was no one there to chase away the monsters.
"That’s when we realized – this is a major problem, not just in the military but for little kids in general," Hemme said.
So they took action. Over the last two years the couple developed the character Zimbobo, a small plush toy whose soul purpose is to deflect the monsters from wherever he is placed. Paired with the book "Goodbye Monsters," which explains Zimbobo's job to the reader (or listener), the Hemmes hope Zimbobo can help children sleep better whether their parents are stateside or not.
Having the book to go with the toy opens up the possibility of the deployed parent being able to participate in introducing the child to the idea, Hemme said.
"If I was deployed I could read the book to my child and have the protector at home. It gave so many options and we thought we would be able to help," he said.
The book doesn't specifically mention the military because they didn't want to alienate non-military readers or pick one military service to feature over another.
The couple self published the book in early August and are offering it for sale on both their website, GoodbyeMonsters.com and Amazon (where the price is slightly higher thanks to Amazon's fulfillment fee). Ultimately they would like to be able to offer the toy and book combo to deploying units, so they are looking to sponsors to help with costs.
Even though it's only been available for a short time they've already heard success stories. A 5-year-old neighbor to one of Hemme's relatives tested Zimbobo for them after having a hard time sleeping because of her monsters.
"Two or three days later and this little five-year-old comes up and says 'Zimbobo works! Zimbobo works!' Hemme said. "I don’t want to say it makes my heart skip but it does something, it gives me a sense of happiness."
Photos by Military.com.
While we did receive a copy of Goodbye Monsters so that we could check it out and make sure we liked it before telling you about it, all of the opinions above are our own.