Every Body Be Grateful
[two_first] [/two_first] Our exclusive interview with author of Every Body Be Grateful, Venetia Pristavec.
I love the message of this book — can you tell us what inspired you to write it?
[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]Y[/dropcap]es, the message of this book is gratitude for the body. I was working 80+ hours a week at a startup and really hit a low point on compassion for my own body. I developed a repetitive stress injury in my hands and couldn't type, and then in 2013 I got diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Once the thyroid came out (and it's all good now!) I realized how strong the body was. It blew my mind. My scar healed so quickly and my body wanted to get better.
Growing up I felt like I didn't really have any knowledge of my own body at all. In fact, if anything, I ate poorly and was always self-conscious about my thighs and weight. No one told me to love my body or even think about how hard it worked. So I wanted to establish this message of self-love early on in children through an interactive and fun way. Plus, the science of gratitude is coming out to create stronger self-esteem and immune systems. My hope is that even with children saying these words of gratitude that their bodies will then feel the love.[divider type="thin"][divider type="thick"]
Can you tell us what effect it has had on the children or adults who have read it? Any unexpected reactions to the self-love theme of the book?
[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]T[/dropcap]he way the book is best experienced is to sing the song with the kids and have them point to their body parts and hug themselves. Also, when reading the book, asking them questions like, "What did you smell today?" or have them feel your heart beat. It's teaching them as well as having them say thank you.
The best reaction was from a teacher in Chicago who sent me a video of a child who didn’t know what "lungs" were. He looked confused and said, "Lungs?" Then the teacher said, "Yes, they help you breathe," and she pointed to her chest. He put his hands on his chest and said, "Thank you lungs!"
I was so happy.[divider type="thin"][divider type="thick"]
Your illustrations are so gorgeous for this, can you tell us a little about the art direction that went into it?
[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]I[/dropcap] was inspired by the illustrations for a book called The River. I worked with a fabulously talented illustrator who is a fun and whimsical person, and so I think it comes out in the books. The art direction was primarily me helping with color choice, style and then what was actually happening in the images: "pizza, ears, bear nose" etc. I knew we wanted little hidden gems in there, so you can count the smiley faces or find the animals within it. It was a true collaboration, but the vision of the book was to have a couple different layers.[divider type="thin"][divider type="thick"]
How did the process of self-publishing work for you? Any tips for readers who might be interested in publishing their own work?
[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]T[/dropcap]his is my second self-published book. If you want to publish a book of your own, start with the story and then find the illustrator that speaks to you through their work and contact them. Also, books take a while...anywhere from 6-10 months so just plan on it being a long-term project. It really only took about half an hour every week to review things, but making it very collaborative I put a ton of trust and faith in the illustrator. I think having freedom in your ideas helps to getting them out into the world.
I dress up like my other character, Chloe the Cloud, when I sell the books or read them to classrooms![divider type="thin"][divider type="thick"]
Check out Venetia's work:
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