Phonak hEARo and children’s book author April Riccio was born premature at six months. She only weighed three pounds, two ounces.
“Way back then, I was considered a ‘miracle baby,’” she says. “The doctors were worried about my hearing and eyesight.”
She isn’t sure what tests were done, but she didn’t realize she had a hearing loss until her son was born in 1985. She couldn’t hear him cry during the night. Alarmed, she went to a doctor, who diagnosed her with profound hearing loss. He said it might have been caused because her inner ear canal didn’t develop properly as a result of her premature birth. He wanted to operate, but it would have meant possibly having vertigo the rest of her life. She chose not to have surgery.
Riccio’s lipreading ability helped mask the severity of her hearing loss. She had a career in the fashion industry and worked without any hearing devices until she had a boss with a very high voice. That’s when she saw an audiologist who fitted her with hearing aids. She wears Phonak aids, and calls them the best she’s ever had.
Pickles in Paris is Riccio’s second children’s book, available on Etsy and Amazon. It received a Mom’s Choice Award. As the description on the book jacket states, it’s “a story about a very smart and silly dog named Pickles who relocates from his home in Colorado to Paris. Pickles loves to explore the ‘City of Light’ both day and night. Not to mention, he especially loves French food! Pickles and his best friend Rexie live in six different apartments. Rexie wants to know which apartment is Pickles’ favorite one?”
It’s “a story about a very smart and silly dog named Pickles who relocates from his home in Colorado to Paris.
The 20-page book has lovely watercolor illustrations by Allie Castellani, who is Riccio’s cousin. French words are sprinkled throughout the book, so children can learn some French. A glossary in the beginning also helps.
What inspired this book? Pickles was Riccio’s daughter’s dog with whom she moved from Colorado to Paris in 2010. They lived in the six apartments described in the book. Riccio started writing the book the first year her daughter moved to Paris. When Pickles passed away at the age of nine, Riccio decided to give her daughter the book to keep his “sweet memory alive.” The pure white Japanese Shiba Inu is a clever dog breed, Riccio says, and Pickles had a great personality.
“[He was] very independent and quick to learn,” Riccio recalls. “He adapted to the French language very quickly and indeed loved the French food!”
Riccio herself also loves Paris and has lived in France on and off for over 30 years. Her daughter never got another dog after Pickles. As for which was her daughter’s’ favorite apartment in Paris? It’s the one with the large garden.
Riccio is working on a book that will be finished sometime this year. This one is about her hearing loss, and is called Pickles and The Important Thing.
“It’s a true story again about how Pickles helped me ‘hear,’” Riccio says.