“A character unlike any other”: How a ‘bald princess’ is spreading joy during a pandemic

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NORTHERN VIRGINIA (WDVM) — When you think of a princess, you imagine a castle, a knight in shining armor, and long flowing hair with a tiara, but have you ever heard of a bald princess?

The children’s series was conceptualized by Rachel Rose Gray, founder of the non-profit “Joy to the Kids.” Gray would dress up as fairy tale characters and visit pediatric cancer patients, and the children would comment on her long hair. “Once I got to know some of these children, I realized that I felt inspired to create a character unlike any other,” said Gray.

Gray reached out to her friend and author Tricia Politte to create a story about a bald girl who realizes she has super powers. “I thought, if we just make her an ordinary kid, who happens to be a little different from everybody else, then people can see how each person has a special power,” said Politte.

Gray thought that just writing a book wasn’t enough. She decided to bring Princess Joy to life. “I was looking for ways to support these kids and shave my head myself and actually play the character from our book,” she said.

The message is to promote acceptance and kindness, even for children who haven’t experienced cancer. “I always believe in having a book that I see myself in, so it’d be wonderful for a child to see herself or himself into this book,” said Politte.

Gray hasn’t been able to visit the children in the hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic, so she created a YouTube channel, where she posts videos of her reading the book dressed as Joy. “But it doesn’t compare to seeing kids in the hospital, and hopefully that will happen again really soon,” she said.

The book recently won a national Moonbeam Children’s Book award for best chapter book in a series.

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