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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Student with Special Needs Uses Talent to Illustrate Book

Cooper posing in front of his sketches.
13-year-old Cooper Soesbee was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. He didn’t talk until he was about five years old, but he still found a way to express his emotions long before then—through drawing.

“I like to draw a lot,” said Cooper, a seventh grader at Danny Jones Middle School. “When I grow up, I want to open a comic book store with a coffee shop.”

Not many students can brag about being a published illustrator; but Cooper can, and it all stemmed from his love of pizza.

When Cooper was in kindergarten, he hit a phase where he only wanted to eat a specific type of frozen pizza. Although a pediatrician said it was normal behavior for autistic children, his mother decided to write a book to encourage Cooper to try new things.

Coco’s Bananas is about a monkey who only wants to eat bananas. After going on an adventure, he discovers other foods that he likes,” said Kim Soesbee, Cooper’s mother.

Because of Cooper’s gift of drawing, Kim hoped he would help bring the story to life through illustration. And nearly eight years later, those illustrations are complete.

“Autism has its own timeline. It took a while for Cooper to stay focused on this one project, but we got it done, and he did a great job,” said Kim.

The book will no longer be just a household staple—it will be available for the public to purchase.

Kim, Cooper, and David Soesbee excited for the book signing.
Coco’s Bananas was published in mid-March. With the help of Cooper’s father, who is also president of Touch Publishing, a book signing is scheduled from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 18 at the Barnes & Noble at Northeast Mall in Hurst, Texas.

“Cooper’s very excited about it,” said David Soesbee, Cooper’s father. “We hope that this book can be used as a catapult to encourage parents that their child is going through a stage and understand what autism is about.”

The Soesbees have used this experience to launch Triangle & Square Books, which they said will give parents of special needs children an outlet to publish their own books.