“The emotional weight of a premature birth is hard to grasp until it’s experienced. A tiny infant’s fragility is contrary to the burden the family and child must carry. Working with the contributing artists on a book that would touch Quebecers’ hearts and contribute to Préma-Québec's mission was an incredible opportunity.”
Each year, over 6,000 Quebec families struggle to cope with the trauma of a preterm birth, a birth before 37 weeks. Ginette Mantha, who has twice experienced prematurity, founded Préma-Québec, the only organization in the province to provide financial and psychological support to these families.
A child born before term is tiny, lightweight, fragile. And hard to fathom.
How can we raise awareness and encourage Quebecers to give generously to the cause? With a book the weight of a premature baby to cradle in their hands. And by releasing it in bookstores one month before its expected due date.
That’s how the idea of Le Livre de 1,8 livre (1.8-Pound Book) was born. This light-as-a-feather collection of four beautifully illustrated stories evokes these tiny, fragile beings who arrive too soon.
To create a book that embodies the fragility of a premature baby, recreating the experience involved more than just the emotional and actual weight of the book.
Several design choices reflect the concept: The book is wrapped in a dust jacket like a newborn swaddled in a receiving blanket. As they turn the pages, readers can follow an illustrated evolution of a child's head as it changes in diameter from 24 to 40 weeks.
And since the book’s weight is central to its design, several key production criteria had to be respected: The materials chosen, the format, number of pages, the humidity of the paper and ink during the printing process. Nothing was left to chance.
Four renowned Quebec authors and four illustrators created light, illuminating stories within an assigned number of pages.
In addition to this requirement, the eight artists were given free rein to tell their story on prematurity. The campaign was amplified by an animated video in which the author of Flocon, Stéphanie Lapointe, tells her story in a neonatal ward.
A total of 7,000 copies were printed with an expected launch date of December 17, 2022.
Just like a premature birth, the book was released one month early, on November 17, for World Prematurity Day.
Supported by a launch video featuring a 1.8-pound baby on a scale, the awareness campaign included community outreach and online advertising. A public and government relations strategy elevated the campaign to engage key influencers, including one of Quebec’s biggest: Premier François Legault.
Préma-Québec is the only organization in the province that comes to the aid of parents of premature children. Yet every year in Quebec, 8% of births take place before term. Founded in 2003 by preemie parents, the association is supported by doctors, nurses and other professionals working in neonatology. Préma-Québec regularly holds discussion groups at six neonatal units in Quebec. It organizes annual training sessions for healthcare professionals and holds activities to raise awareness about prematurity among the general public.