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Mother of fallen officer Amy Caprio writes book that helps children manage grief and loss

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Posted at 4:20 AM, Nov 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-17 23:27:12-05

Like all good children's books, The Story of the Dragonfly starts with "Once upon a time..."

It follows the story of a girl named Amy who grows up to fulfill her dream of becoming a police officer, until a tragedy on the job takes Amy's life and her spirit is turned into a dragonfly.

The story is about Amy Caprio, the Baltimore County police officer who died in the line of duty in 2018. Her mom, Debbie Sorrells, wrote the book. Her sister Laura Sorrells illustrated it.

"Actually it didn’t start out as a book," Debbie said. "I was asked to speak at the dedication of the Unity Playground at Gunpowder Elementary school [in 2021]."

Gunpowder Elementary went on lockdown the day Caprio was killed while responding to a call. Sorrells said she felt more comfortable speaking to the children than the adults, so she wrote the speech geared toward them.

"It was the children in the school that were more traumatized and needed to work through their thoughts and emotions, she said. "After the speech, people came up to me and asked about the book and there was no book."

She worked with the Apprentice House Press at Loyola University to turn the speech into a children's book called "The Story of the Dragonfly".

"I wanted [the kids] to know that she’s not gone, she hasn’t been lost," she said.

Sorrells said she didn't choose the dragonfly to represent her daughter, the dragonfly chose Amy. She recalls seeing one on the day of Caprio's funeral, flying between her and her friends before circling the casket.

"Then other people started telling different stories, people that Amy knew, about these sightings of dragonflies. It's a visual, physical reminder that she’s there."

Sorrells said that with loss and grief, one can choose to focus on the negative or the positive. She hopes the book will show children, and even adults, how to process their feelings and focus on the positive.

"The person can be remembered and should be remembered because its memories that keeps the person alive."

A portion of the proceeds from the book will go to the Maryland chapter of "Concerns for Police Survivors", which helps families who have lost a loved one in law enforcement.

There are two public receptions to celebrate the publication of the book. One is Thursday November 17 from 4-7 p.m. at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #4 at 9304 Harford Road in Baltimore.

The second reception is Monday November 21 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Perry Hall branch of Baltimore County Public Libraries at 9685 Honeygo Boulevard.

For more information about how to purchase a book, click here.