SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah author of the popular BabyLit series, Jennifer Adams, is coming out with something new this month for little readers. "I Am a Warrior Goddess" (illustrated by Carme Lemniscates, Sounds True, ages 4-8) focuses on empowering young girls to make a difference in the world.
Because of this theme, the publisher handed out copies of the book along with tote bags and T-shirts that said, "I am a warrior goddess," to little girls who attended the Women's March in Denver on Jan. 20.
"That made me so happy," Adams said in an interview. "I love the idea that I wrote this book that's telling little girls they're powerful, important and strong and have important things to do in the world. That was really heartwarming to me to get to see the little girls with my book and wearing their little warrior goddess T-shirts."
Adams has been a book editor for 20 years. At Gibbs Smith, she focused a lot on editing children's books, which she said she enjoys because she gets to combine words with pictures to create a little work of art. It was there that she wrote her BabyLit books, starting with "Pride and Prejudice" and now totalling 30 board books based on classic literature this year.
After BabyLit was featured in the New York Times in 2013, the books started to take off and Adams was able to move to writing full time, but she found that she missed editing.
"I missed the creative collaboration," she said. "Writing is a lot more solitary. I love it, but I also missed that creative energy of having colleagues."
Meanwhile, Sounds True, a small independent publisher out of Denver that focuses on spirituality, published one of their first children's books, "Good Night Yoga." It did well enough that they approached Adams about managing a whole line of children's books for them. Now, she edits for them part time from her home in Salt Lake City.
She then got the idea for "I Am a Warrior Goddess" from one of Sounds True's audio recordings called "The Warrior Goddess Training Program" by HeatherAsh Amara. The title inspired Adams to create a book about a little girl juxtaposed against a grand title like warrior goddess.
"I thought it would be fun to pair a little, small character … (with) strong, powerful affirmations of doing these great things, and then the art shows how she does those things in tiny ways," Adams said. "The message is you actually can make the world much better and do these huge things, even though the actions themselves might be really tiny — it makes a big difference."
Sounds True had to hire an outside editor for "I Am a Warrior Goddess," since Adams is their children's books editor. Adams said the whole process was a "positive creative experience," and she's lucky that because of her experience, she's always had a lot more say in the art and design of her picture books. For "I Am a Warrior Goddess," for example, she was allowed to pick the illustrator she wanted.
Adams said in a news release that as she wrote this book, she was also inspired by the life of her single mother, who passed away from breast cancer.
"She taught me that you can be strong without having to be brash or aggressive," she said. "Cancer is a horrific battle, and my mom fought, and fought hard, but at the same time she managed to navigate that whole experience with kindness and love and grace."
Her mother, who was an English professor at Brigham Young University, also taught Adams to love reading.
"My mom would always be like, 'Money spent on books doesn't count,'" Adams said in an interview, and adding that her father also bought lots of books for her and her younger brother.
"They would let us build our own little library," she said.
While her mother worked, Adams said she had a lot of time alone as a child and books were her safe place to escape. She loves that she now gets to help parents introduce children to reading through her books.
"It's so fun to be able to make books for the smallest people because you know that will have a bigger impact on their life," she said. "If you make a book that makes a child a reader, you could really change their future."
If you go …
What: Jennifer Adams book signing
When: Saturday, March 10, 11 a.m.
Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East
Note: Places in the signing line are reserved for those who purchase a copy of the featured book from The King's English.