All of Me! (A Book of Thanks)
First published in 2009
About the Book
Bonnie Verburg, my editor at Blue Sky Press, said she often felt thankful but knew of no children’s book about thankfulness. Would I consider making one?
We talked about this several times, but I had no ideas. Bonnie sent me a piece she wrote, lovely and full of thankfulness, but I didn’t relate to it and couldn’t imagine illustrating it. We talked back and forth about the possibility, but nothing much happened. I was too interested in the books about Sunlight to really get into it. I’m very thankful for sunlight, seeing as how we wouldn’t exist without it.
My biggest difficulty in the matter is that I am not religious, and whenever I thought of thankfulness, I kept asking myself, “Whom would I be thanking?” I am just thankful. I am thankful and (usually) glad to be alive, but when we give thanks, it’s usually directed at some recipient. I was stuck.
Then one day I realized that a child could just be thankful for every part of herself: her hands, eyes, feet, belly, her whole wonderfully functioning body. Once I understood that, the whole book came out almost in a single piece. I did revise it, but the revisions were fairly minor; the basic idea was what mattered.
I had always wanted to make a book from a paper bag, the most basic—and free!—of materials. Also, brown is a color that is not only made of all the other colors mixed together, it also makes all the other colors look more beautiful, richer. And I wanted the pictures to show a child that s/he could easily make a book of her or his own with the bits of paper and cloth and crayon and whatever is around the house. So I built the pictures from leftover odds and ends, and I found myself playing in my favorite ‘sandbox,’ gluing and pasting and painting and arranging. And taking pictures that I could then cut up and rearrange on the page. All the houses in the scene of the child’s town, for example, are buildings in my own home town of Woods Hole, including the Post Office, the coffee shop, the bank office (now closed and sold), the library, the boatyard and the Marine Biological Laboratory.
It was Kathy Westray, the art editor, who gave me the ideas for the end papers. She and Bonnie had suggested that I either talk about or show how the book was made, and so I showed a couple of things. Kathy pushed me to show more. And then more and more. So we played and worked back and forth and eventually came up with the different end pages for the front of the book and the back.
The cat, General Tank, was about the biggest, most affectionate and most orange cat we have known, but he died soon after we got him. So this is a book in memory of General Tank. It is also for my new twin grand daughters, Chloe and Eloise. And for many other people who are new and not so new to the world, and for whom I am very, very thankful.
copyright 2016 by Molly Bang