The Essay


Gold Mom’s Choice Award

Benjamin “Stubs” Stafford recalls his early years of overcoming a deformed leg and hand since birth. His classmates nickname him “Stubby” even as he works through the process of having a prosthesis. With the love and support of his family, he wins an essay contest that changes his life and the way his classmates look at him. A story of compassion and understanding, The Essay, will educate and encourage readers of all ages.

What People Say

The Essay is a compelling story that draws you in from the first paragraph and fills you with curiosity throughout the entire story. Isabell Niland brilliantly creates Stubby, an endearing character who struggles with his own identity in the face of taunts and injustices from his peers. This book is timeless and ageless—any person of any age can relate to the struggles of growing up and the predicament of finding his or her purpose in life.—Laurie Ferguson, Grade 5 Teacher, Allegany County Board of Education

A sweet, touching story with a wonderful lesson about seeing beyond the obvious. A great teaching tool for acceptance of others/anti-bullying.
Dr. Barbara Ornstein, Professor, Frostburg State University Department of Education

With the insight of an insider, Isabell Niland gives children an opportunity to explore their feelings about differences, bullies, and being bullied. The powerful message of overcoming obstacles and opinions permeates the pages of a book all children can find a part of themselves within. —Dee Blank, Elementary Supervisor, Allegany County Board of Education

As an elementary school principal, whether a child is a victim, a bully, or an observer, I immediately felt the connection ALL students can make to this touching and life learning experience. The emotions I felt as I read the story with chills and tears were of much hope, pride, and joy. We all can learn greatly from those who are “different.” This story is an amazing teaching tool for the human race! I am confident this story will be honored as a fantastic resource for instruction in my elementary school.—Autumn Eirich, Principal, Bel Air Elementary, Allegany County Board of Education


Isabell Niland






5 x 7



Other Details

Illustrated by Ashley Teets


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About the Author

Award Winning Author, Isabell Niland, has been an elementary school teacher for over 15 years. Isabell enjoys writing short stories for her students focusing on challenges they may face in their daily lives.

She is active in the School Show Program and is available for workshops, speaking, and school visits.

She resides in Western Maryland with her husband and two dachshunds. When she isn’t teaching, she enjoys writing, crocheting and spending time with her daughter, son-in-law, and their rescue dog.