Inspired by the idea of being thankful for all that you have, An Awesome Book of Thanks!
is a beautifully written, fantastically illustrated walk through a world of magical unicorns, robotic dinosaurs, and all of life's simple moments, great and small. Crafted for children ages 0-1000, this timeless story is sure to be an instant classic, at home in the hands of anyone looking for the perfect reminder of just how beautiful life can be.
A Q&A with Dallas Clayton Question:
How did you start writing?
Dallas Clayton: I grew up writing zines, poems, journals, short stories--printing them myself and selling them to people on the street. That's where I came from. I started doing that when I was 12 or 13, and like most things you start doing at that age, I didn't really have any scope of how big of a part of my life it would become; it was just something I did because it was fun. I moved to Los Angeles when I was 18, and after a few months of going to shows, art galleries, markets, and performance spaces, people started offering me writing jobs. It was never something I'd planned on--it was just something that happened that way.
Question: How did you make the transition into children’s literature?
Dallas Clayton: I had never written a kids' book before. Honestly, I'd never written any sort of book before An Awesome Book! But after my son was born I knew I wanted to write something for him while he was still young enough to appreciate it. So I started to write a kids’ book a day and the first one I wrote was An Awesome Book! After I put it down on paper I stopped and thought, "Okay--what now?"
Question: People took to it?
Dallas Clayton: Well, the first pressing sold out in a week, then the second pressing sold out between when I ordered it and when it arrived, and then it just kept going. Pretty soon people were ordering so many copies that I basically had to change everything I was doing. I became a kids' author overnight. I was shipping orders out of my house to people all over the world and every day something even crazier than the day before would happen. Getting letters from people all over the world, requests to come speak, people wanting me to collaborate with them--just tons of unexpected magic.
Question: With all of the success of An Awesome Book!, what was your approach to following it up?
Dallas Clayton: Well, I just wanted to make something Awesome. People were so happy with the first one and that made me so happy, I knew making another book could only double that happiness. And after reading to so many kids and talking to them about their hopes and their dreams, I knew I wanted to talk about the idea of being thankful, like all of your aspirations are important but remember to be thankful for all of the small things we tend to take for granted. That's the idea behind An Awesome Book of Thanks!--dream big, but be thankful for what you have.
Question: What are you hoping people take away from your books?
Dallas Clayton: I guess the same things I would hope people would take away from anything worth appreciating. To offer them a little break in their day to contemplate all the amazing possibilities that life has to offer. For me, kids' books are just the same as any other art form--your goal shouldn't be to tell a story, your goal should be to communicate an idea to try and share a theme, to give someone a bigger experience. All the authors that I grew up reading, all the classics I think did that. All the major forces in the modern kids' world did that: Dr. Seuss, Walt Disney, Jim Henson--those are people whose ideas inspire me.
A Look Inside An Awesome Book of Thanks!
Click on the images below to see a few of our editors' favorite pages from An Awesome Book of Thanks!
Teaching young children about gratitude might be daunting, especially since that audience often forgets to say thank you. But Clayton’s exuberant book shows kids how to look around and be grateful for all the wonderful things in their lives. “There didn’t use to be boats,” the book begins and then follows with a list of things to be thankful for. Along with trees and trains, the breeze and rain, Clayton takes a leap of imagination and is thankful for rope-skipping jungle cats and alligator acrobats. On a more realistic note, the book reminds children to be thankful for “places to go / when you want to cry” and even bad things that might turn out to be good, “for they make us all stronger.” Although the examples may go on a tad too long, the deliciously childlike art will sustain readers. Packaged in a compact horizontal format, the art skips across the pages, sometimes silly, sometimes practical (tiny combs, glasses, toasters, teapots) and always appealing. This will make kids and their parents say “Thank you.” (Grades K-2) --Ilene Cooper