Mt. Airy's author of brilliant, charming children's books

Posted 7/10/20

Mt. Airy author/illustrator, Sarah Adler Claxton, has written and illustrated several wonderful children's books. Her most recent is “Square: How Our Complex Emotions Make Each of Us Unique and …

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Mt. Airy's author of brilliant, charming children's books

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Mt. Airy author/illustrator, Sarah Adler Claxton, has written and illustrated several wonderful children's books. Her most recent is “Square: How Our Complex Emotions Make Each of Us Unique and Wonderful.”

by Len Lear

One thing I have learned from writing feature articles about local authors is just how competitive the children's book publishing business is. I have had the good fortune to read many wonderful children's books by local authors, but none have impressed me more than those by Mt. Airy's Sarah Adler Claxton.

Her recent book, “Square: How Our Complex Emotions Make Each of Us Unique and Wonderful” (available on www.sarahclaxton.com and Amazon), is about emotions and is specifically geared to 3 to 5-year-olds who may be struggling with the words to describe their feelings.  

Claxton, who is also a brilliant illustrator, is currently working on another in her “Shape” series of books called “Banana Lost his Bunch!” It’s about a banana’s journey and the friends he makes along the way. (I cannot remember the last time I read a book about a friendly banana or even one that is not so friendly, but in Claxton's hands it is bound to be charming.) “It’s been a long creative process, and I’m hoping to traditionally publish,” she said last week. “I’m currently seeking an agent.”

Claxton's first book, which absolutely oozes with humanity, was “Triangle and Circle: How Embracing Each Other's Differences Can Lead to Beautiful Friendship” (2018), was introduced at a reading and book signing at Big Blue Marble Bookstore, 551 Carpenter Lane in West Mt. Airy, when in-person events were possible. The concept of “Triangle and Circle," of different shapes respecting each other, is profound in its seeming simplicity. 

“When I had my son (Fritz, now 3 and ½),” Claxton said, explaining her motivation for the book, “I had a burst of creative energy, and current events pulled it into focus. It is so painful to see people being bullied and ridiculed. The lack of empathy in American politics right now is mind-boggling. I don't want our children to be de-sensitized; being different is hard enough. We should all be so much kinder to each other. The story actually started out much more complex, but I whittled it down. I wanted to approach it from a young child's perspective and keep it simple without diluting the message.”

Claxton, 41, originally from Washington, D.C., went to Marymount College in New York City but left after one year. She moved to Israel for a year and then to California, where she graduated from the Brooks Institute of Photography in 2003 with a degree in Commercial Photography. “I have always written and illustrated and been an artist,” Claxton told us, “but I never really had the combination of resources, time and motivation to do it seriously before.”  

Claxton has strong feelings about the hot-button immigration issue. “It is so heart-breaking,” she told us in an earlier interview. “My mother is an immigrant from Ecuador, and her father was a Holocaust refugee, so I am very lucky to be here. My step-mother is an immigration attorney, so I get to hear what some people are going through, and it's not good. We are in a very serious crisis, but immigration is not the problem. It seems like there's nothing we can do, but every voice matters, and even the littlest act can make a difference, whether that's a small kindness in your daily life, a phone call to a politician or attending a protest. We need to protect each other and educate people.”

In light of the protests over racism all over the country recently, what are Claxton's observations? “It’s been a very long time coming, and I’m so happy these injustices are being addressed. Important voices are being amplified, and the education that’s resulted is amazing. Honestly, I feel like we’re still in the beginning, but I know we’re headed in the right direction. Right now any tiny step towards reform is the right direction, and we’re aiming for leaps and bounds.
“This interview would be really long if we talked about all the policies that have racism ingrained in them such as welfare, public housing and bail ... Our systems are broken, and I’ll support whatever actions it takes to fix them.

“My son and I had a really nice moment at a protest recently. He asked me what 'No Justice, No Peace' means. I told him when something is not right, or someone is doing something bad, you’ve gotta make a lot of noise.”

When asked if she ever considered running for public office, the author/illustrator replied, “I have considered it, although I’ve also considered stand-up comedy. In both cases, there are probably more qualified people out there.”

For more information, visit sarahclaxton.com. Len Lear can be reached at lenlear@chestnuthilllocal.com

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