Joel and Roxy Thomas hope to change the world with their new children’s books.
“Why Bee Angry?” is the first children’s book from Joel Thomas, outdoor school coordinator at Twin Rocks Friends Camp. He began the book nearly ten years ago while studying elementary education at George Fox University in Newberg. The book will release August 1 on Amazon and his website.
By Jordan Wolfe
And, yes, he and his wife Roxy have already started work on their next book.
“The plan is to release several books a year,” Joel Thomas said. “Some will be academic in nature while others will focus on Christian and Humanitarian values such as compassion, empathy, forgiveness, peace and love.”
Character-building is an emphasis with the new books, according to Joel Thomas. At the end of the story, there are several questions to spur critical thinking and introspection either in the classroom or at home. Because the stories will not end with a “happily ever after” finale, Joel Thomas said the humorous, often unexpected endings naturally lend themselves to discussion of the themes presented.
“It is super important to spur discussion,” he said. “In society, we often build conflict without resolution. It has seen a divide in countries and people groups across the planet.”
Joel Thomas said the art style he decided on for “Why Bee Angry?” is unique for a children’s book.
It uses paper. Lots of paper.
“The cut paper stuff was kind of a fluke. I’ve never seen [a children’s book] quite in this style,” Joel Thomas said, adding with a laugh, “I discovered I really liked cutting with scissors.”
Everything he populates the page with, from set-pieces to characters, is all created from erratic shapes he cuts out from colored paper. He then uses a Sharpie for additional detail.
If bees are not of interest, stay patient for the Thomases second book.
“It involves slugs in outer space on asteroids,” Joel Thomas said, laughing, “It’s not very scientifically accurate.”
The books are written for a spectrum of readers, according to the Thomases.
“We’re aiming for [ages] four to nine, for read-aloud and eight to 12 for an independent reading age,” Joel Thomas said. “We didn’t simplify most of the words.”
He admitted his writing style sometimes does not flow, so he and his wife have sought help from specialists: their neighbors’ sons.
Joel and Roxy Thomas would read the book aloud to the young boys and receive feedback on how to improve the book.
“We didn’t test it on girls though,” said Roxy Thomas with a laugh.
As a student teacher, Joel Thomas began work on his book. However, financial barriers to self-publishing and a saturated market prevented him from finishing the book.
“Not long ago there was nothing for new authors,” he said, “No big publishers wanted to pick up new authors or illustrators.”
However, the self-publishing program CreateSpace presented a fresh opportunity.
“Prior to CreateSpace, you had to spend thousands of dollars to self-publish,” he said. Now, he is able to self-publish without a financial commitment and sell the book for $10 a copy.
“It’s really exciting to share, with the rest of the world, something you’ve created.”