A MUM whose son’s speech disorder was the inspiration for a children’s story is to celebrate its publication next month.

Ex-Daily Echo journalist Julie Ballard is to see her debut picture book The Dinosaur Who Lost Her Voice published on June 27.

With illustrations by Francesca Gambatesa, the rhyming tale is an inclusive story featuring a disabled lead character.

Brontosaurus Milly Jo loses her beautiful singing voice when her neck is struck by a falling tree during a summer storm.

Rendered mute and overcome with sadness, the story reveals how Milly picks up the pieces, with the help of her friends, and learns to shine in life in a different way.

The story was inspired by Julie’s youngest son who battled with a severe speech disorder prior to school. While his personal struggle ended successfully, she was aware the outcome isn’t always the same for other children.

Julie said: “When I originally wrote the story, I assumed I would have to have a conventional ending where the lead character regains her voice and lives happily ever after. But it just didn’t feel right.

“Ultimately, I wrote it the way I wanted but assumed it would never be published. So you can imagine my surprise when the team at Egmont said they wished to offer me a contract.”

“Friendship and teamwork feature heavily, as does focussing not on what you can’t do in life, but on all the things you CAN! Oh, and there’s a giant helping of singing dinosaurs too.”

Julie is delighted that a picture book featuring a disabled protagonist is being championed by a mainstream publisher.

She added: “I think it’s important for all children to see themselves reflected in the books they read. Slowly, slowly there has been a shift towards recognising this but, often, the issue of disability features children in wheelchairs.”

On June 29, Julie and Francesca will be launching their book at Waterstones in Westquay.

The store will be doing dinosaur craft-making activities at 11.30am and 2.30pm and Julie will be giving a reading.

Cupcakes will be available for children who turn up dressed as dinosaurs.