The Novacarta Association was formed on 28 May 2013, by Monica Axelrad, Dejan Dincic and Urs Richle, in the Pâquis area in Geneva, in Monica’s kitchen.
The association was the result of a long chain of events and discussions between the three of us about books and projects.
Monica and Urs had already worked together for several years at the University of Geneva on “Digital Interactive Storytelling”. Dejan brought his e-learning skills to the team.
Monica had two children, a two year old son and a daughter of a few months old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. At the hospital, she was given a children’s book that explained cancer. Her son loved to listen to the story which reflected several aspects of his new reality – with one important exception: This book showed a nuclear family (mother, father, daughter) whereas Monica lived alone with her two children. Monica’s friend, Veronica Tighe (who later joined our project), said to her one day : “You know, I skipped that chapter in the book where the dad goes to the zoo with his daughter, because I don’t know how to explain it to your son because of his own father’s absence.”
This is how the idea of an adaptable book was born:
What if we created a book that could be adapted to different family settings so as to explain what cancer is? And what if you could pick: … who is sick? … the different types of treatments underwent? … the graphic design? … the language?
After a period of fund-raising, at the beginning of 2014, NovaCarta was able to launch the project for the creation of an adaptable book which explained cancer to children. At the end of 2015, the first books in French, illustrated by three illustrators/cartoonists from Geneva, Adrienne Barman, Tom Tirabosco and Johan Walder were printed. The online platform is being created and will enable a wide range of people related or not to cancer to order this book online after selecting the parameters that correspond to their own situation.
Monica Axelrad succumbed to cancer on April 19th 2016.