When Gail Crampton's daughter was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, she was inspired to raise awareness of invisible illnesses.

Her new book, Rodney Meadow-Hopper, The Hare Who Didn't Care, came out at the end of last year.

It aims to raise awareness of invisible illnesses and get children to open up about what is bothering them through gentle rhyme and Megan Pugh's illustrations.

We caught up with Gail to find out more.

How did you get the idea for Rodney Meadow-Hopper?

I was inspired to write Rodney after witnessing my daughter's and other children's reactions to adults and various health professionals. 

I noticed there is a lot of pressure to be 'brave and strong' which is possibly having the reverse affect on helping a child to come to terms with their condition.

I noticed my daughter would just say she was fine because she wanted to go home, or she would withhold from me as she felt responsible for me being upset or anxious.

Can you give us a quick summary of the story?

Rodney Meadow-Hopper, The Hare Who Didn't Care, is told in gentle rhyme and encourages the child to discuss with their parents how they feel.

Rodney has an illness, which is never disclosed, and he doesn't want to play or tell his friends in case they don't want to be around him or treat him differently. They think he is grumpy.

I tried to show that when he was honest with his friends everything was alright because they understood – they can't help if they don't know what is going on.

It shows the relief Rodney feels at the end now he has shared how he feels.

I asked my illustrator to use subliminal images too – clouds and drab colours to begin, eventually getting brighter and finishing with a rainbow, my nod to LGTB too!

Why do you feel it is important to encourage children to speak about invisible illnesses?

I feel it's important to talk about health issues from a very early age.

I have witnessed children being 'shut down' as they don't want to appear weak or worry their parents. 

I know my daughter stopped telling us anything eventually as we got so distressed. I will live with that guilt for a long time. 

I also get annoyed at the terminology used with IBD, for example, warrior, fighter etc. It puts a lot of pressure on them to be strong, which isn't fair. 

They need to be able to say how they really feel.

What do you hope the book will achieve?

I just have a vision of getting everyone talking.

I want parents and health professionals to understand when kids are 'masking'. I want them all to know it's OK not to be OK! 

I would like it to be used in schools and hospitals, anywhere with young children. 

And they don't have to be ill to read it, raising awareness is so important, it may help better understanding of others.

What has the reaction been like?

The feed back I've had so far has been incredible, I'm so thrilled it's being understood and enjoyed.

I am truly moved by it all.

More information

Rodney Meadow-Hopper, The Hare Who Didn't Care, is aimed at children aged three to eight years old but anyone can get the message.

While Gail's daughter has Crohn's, the book is suitable for any child with an invisible illness.

Gail has already raised funds for CICRA and is also hoping to raise awareness of some of the other charities and organisations which have supported her family.

They include: Crohn's and Colitis UK, Over the Wall, Make a Wish, RAiISE and Healthy Hope, Holland & Barrett's charitable foundation.

Rodney Meadow-Hopper, The Hare Who Didn't Care, is available to order from Etsy.