Alex Meltzer Is A Precocious Nine-Year-Old. He’s The Focus Of A Book, Whose Author Happens To Be His Mom.
Alex Meltzer is the star of the show.
“Mi casa es su casa,” Meltzer said in Spanish to communicate “My house is your house,” as he welcomed a visitor into his Franklin home.
Alex is only 9 years old, and he’s “never shy,” his mother Jodi Meltzer Darter said.
He’s also the star of Darter’s illustrated children’s book, When You Lived in My Belly, which chronicles the nine months Alex was in the womb. It highlights the challenges, and joys, of carrying a child in utero, and the special bond created from the experience.
(Jodi and Alex sitting together with a copy of When You Lived in My Belly)
Available online, published by Mascot Books, it hits local bookstores Aug. 6. A book signing is scheduled 11 a.m. on Aug. 10 at the Bellingham Barnes & Noble.
Darter, 46, has been writing for years – for television and film. She’s a blogger, and this is her first book.
“My mom is an amazing writer,” Alex said while the two snuggled on a plush couch, holding a copy of the book. “I love her very much.”
The mother-daughter team of Caryn King and Jody King Camarra illustrated the pages – Darter and King Camarra are best friends since kindergarten – and every one represents a month in Alex’s development.
Darter’s pregnant belly on each page includes an illustrated oval, and sitting inside is the latest stage of the developing fetus.
Alex stealthily moved away from his mom, and whispered, “That (oval) makes me feel yuck. My insides feel very bad. But it warms my heart when I read it.”
Darter wanted the ovals, and included words on the pages like “ultrasound” and “birth canal” to remove some of the mystery of pregnancy that may exist in some children’s minds.
“This book is not delivery by stork. It’s honest, in a kid-friendly way,” Darter said.
One of the book’s inspirations is Darter’s late mother, Michele Goldman, who died six years ago from ovarian cancer.
It was Goldman’s dream to write a children’s book, but she never quite got there.
Determined to fulfill her mother’s dream, Darter set out to write a children’s book, but she hit a roadblock – “I had no clue what to write about. I’ve always written about adults.”
The breakthrough came one day when Alex asked Darter, ‘What was it like when I lived in your belly?’
Six years later, after several revisions, Darter finally has a tribute to her mother – and son.
“I came up with the book idea,” Alex gleefully said after jumping off the couch and breaking into dance. “I hope I wasn’t bragging.”
Alex lost his biological father to cancer last September, and Darter is working on a book about grief from two perspectives – the loss of her mother and the death of Alex’s father.
A book is also in the works about how Darter met her second husband, Mike Darter, Alex’s stepfather. After reading one of Darter’s stories, he was so moved that he wrote her. Two years of dating followed, and they’ve been married for two years.
Sitting in his mother’s lap, Alex listened as Darter read a page that described her ninth month of pregnancy. It ends with ”… (Alex was) placed on my chest with a sweet little sigh.”
After a split-second pause, Alex blurted out a “Da-Da-Da” cadence, followed by, “That was a dramatic scene.”
“I always loved you, right from the start,” Darter replied.
“Of course she loved me. Who couldn’t,” Alex said.