As a first-time expecting mother, I thought it sounded like fun and probably good practice (I anticipate attending many of these sort of events and activities when our little one arrives). I grabbed a gal-pal (who was less than enthusiastic about spending her Saturday evening with a bunch of kids at a book reading), and treated her to some dinner at Canter's before making our way over.
Unfortunately, traffic caused us to shift our schedule so we missed the book reading (and had to get dinner after the party). However, when we arrived at the bookstore, the scene reminded us something more of a music venue than a bookstore front. The small crowd that gathered outside was an interesting mix of both young and old adults. We wondered if we were at the right place since we didn't see any mothers pushing strollers with screaming children in tow. As we approached, we heard live music courtesy of Mickey Adams and Hug Cabin. We pushed our way through the crowd, and that's when we saw all the little children up front near the band, dancing and singing along with each other and with their parents.
We stood and watched for a bit, then made our way inside the bookstore to see what we had missed from the book reading. We found "An Awesome Book of Thanks," as well as Clayton's other book simply titled, "An Awesome Book." I found myself reading the books all the way through with a huge grin on my face. The illustrations were delightful, and the stories' messages transcended age. Much like the mood of the evening. We both walked out of the bookstore with a book each, enjoyed a tye-dyed cupcake courtesy of Yummyfun! as we listened to some more music, then headed over to Canter's for a late dinner.
My friend and I agreed it was not the type of experience we expected to have at a children's book reading/release party. We actually had a good time despite ourselves. We felt lighter somehow, like kids again, and were sorry that we missed the actual reading. And like us, it seemed that a lot of the adults were there without kids of their own, but were having a great time nonetheless.
I had an opportunity afterward to get in touch with Mr. Clayton to learn more about his writing and Awesome World Foundation. The following is taken from our email exchange:
1) What inspires you to write? Where do your ideas come from?
Dallas Clayton: I like to write about ideas that I think give perspective to larger more powerful emotions. My books are for adults just as much as they are for children, so when I sit down to put a concept on the page I like to consider issues that transcend age, time, and geographic boundaries - for instance dreaming, or being thankful. Regardless of where you live or who you are you have a relationship with these ideas.
2) How has Awesome World Foundation impacted the world today?
Dallas Clayton: I started the foundation as a way to travel the world and read to kids, talk to them about their hopes and dreams and attempt to inspire them to dream big. In the past year I've been able to do just that, give away thousands of books to children of all ages, and remind them that no matter how wild their dreams may be - anything is possible.
3) What do you enjoy most about being a children's author?
Dallas Clayton: The fact that it affords me the ability share my ideas with people I've never met and the freedom to attempt to meet all those people one by one.
4) Your books are certainly fun for kids to read, but as an adult I also enjoy reading them. What are some of the reactions you've gotten both from kids and adults?
Dallas Clayton: The most mind-blowing amazing fantastic reactions I could have never expected. Every day I wake up to a new letter from someone in another country telling me how I've made an impact on their life, when they were sick, when they were sad, when their children were feeling down, how they've been reading my book in classrooms, or in hospitals, or to help inspire others - reactions like that are so unbelievable to me! So special.