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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lasting Legacy by Randy Peyser

A Lasting Legacy
by Randy Peyser

When twenty-two-year-old David Saltzman, a Yale University student, learned he had Hodgkin's Disease, a life-threatening form of lymphatic cancer, he went outdoors, sat under a tree and cried. But as he cried, something remarkable occurred; he cried so hard, his tears turned to laughter. And his laughter turned to inspiration. David began writing and drawing. A book started taking shape, and although David's health challenges intensified, this book gave him much joy.
Written and illustrated by David Saltzman, The Jester Has Lost His Jingle, is the story of a court jester who, having lost his ability to make people laugh, takes his friend Pharley on a journey to find laughter again. 
David's parents, Barbara and Joe Saltzman promised their son The Jester would be published. Having been turned down by publishers for five years following David's death, Barbara and Joe mortgaged their home to fulfill their promise. The Saltzmans initially printed 20,000 copies , then an additional 10,000, which they donated to children with cancer. In less than a year, not only have 30,000 copies now been printed, The Jester has also made the New York Times bestseller's list, an unusual feat for a children's book. 
Barbara is immensely proud of her son who produced a book filled with great joy in spite of his personal ordeal. "David really was the jester," says Barbara. "He had tremendous grace and optimism and never lost his love of life. His disease may have claimed his life, but it never got his spirit. In many ways David did conquer cancer; he didn't let it conquer him."
Since the publishing of the book, Barbara's world has transformed. After twenty-two years as a senior editor for the L.A. Times, she made the decision to handle The Jester full-time. Barbara has watched how the book has been embraced by people all over the country. "I knew this book was destined to be a children's classic. It has truly taken on a life of its own." She admits to working harder than she ever has, but the rewards are great. People are touched by The Jester. Kids know it's a special book and treat it carefully. Even the little ones, the two and three year olds sit mezmerized as the story is read to them."
Letters arrive from children telling how The Jester helped them get through difficult times and how they're going to be like the Jester and never give up. One letter from a fourth grader reads, "I really enjoyed your son's book. I'm sorry he died. His book taught me a lesson; never hide your laughter, because you might forget where you put that wonderful gift. This isn't just any book, it is a very special book."
 "We believe in it so strongly," says Barbara. "We promised David we would make sure it got published, and we're thrilled we've been able to realize that promise. When Maurice Sendak, ( bestselling author of children's books) endorsed the book, it was like a blessing from the Pope. Maurice was David's idol and that was the highest form of recognition for David." 
The Jester touches people of every age because of its uplifting universal message of self-empowerment. "David was able to communicate this so well; that joy and laughter are within all of us and that we have the power to make ourselves feel good." 
The Saltzmans have just introduced the Jester and Pharley Doll, based on David's characters. Designed by David's brother Michael, kids are absolutely falling in love with them, according to Barbara. "The world loves what David created as much as we do." 
Barbara is busy travelling around the country these days reading and signing books in bookstores and hospitals. Next, she's hoping to raise funds to distribute Jester books and dolls to the children who survived the bombing in Oklahoma City. "David had a wonderful way of communicating with children and a wonderful way with words. Every time I read The Jester, I feel like he's right there."
You may reach The Jester Co., Inc. at  1-800-9-Jester, POB 817, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274, email:
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