Brain Pickings

An Awesome Book of Thanks! Dallas Clayton Celebrates Gratitude

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In 2008, LA-based artist and writer Dallas Clayton made us smile with An Awesome Book! — a lovely, awesome even, illustrated children’s book about dreaming big. This season, he’s back with An Awesome Book of Thanks! — a gem of a sequel about gratitude and the art of being thankful, both timeless and perfectly timed with Thanksgiving.

Written in a style that would make a Dr. Seuss lover swoon and illustrated with the kind of colorful whimsy that tickles your eternal inner kid awake, this is positively one of the most creative, most heart-warming children’s books we’ve ever come across.

You can read the full book online, but the screen doesn’t do Clayton’s vibrant, playful illustration justice — on the bound and printed page, it leaps to life with boundless charm and exuberance.

Clayton wrote the original book for his son, them made some copies and put it all on online just to share it with his friends. Before he knew it, the books were selling out, batch after batch, and he was doing readings in high schools, children’s hospitals, churches, playgrounds and other kid havens.

And just when you begin pondering whether it’s possible to get any more “awesome,” it does: For every copy of the book sold, Clayton’s Awesome Foundation gives one away to a child in need.

An Awesome Book of Thanks! hits bookstores on November 11, but you can already pre-order it on Amazon.

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Smigly: Jazzy Tales of Misfortune

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What giant logos have to do with the digestive difficulties of the Twitter bird.

We’ve been longtime admirers of writer, director and animator Allen Mezquida‘s Smigly series — the animated tales of a lovable misfit (or, to reach into our bag of cross-cultural linguistic treats, a Shlemazl — that’s Yiddish for “unlucky person”) who, despite his smarts, somehow always manages to have his dreams crushed for your comedic benefit. It’s Droopy with getting the girl, Dilbert without the office supplies, Frasier without the pompous dialogue and laugh track.

If you pay attention, life’s a soul-crushing shit storm. Smigly pays attention.”

Mezquida, whose work has previously graced Disney, Warner Bros., Sony and Nickelodeon, happens to also be a talented saxophonist, so he scores most of the films himself.

Today, we’ve curated five of our favorite Smigly episodes – enjoy.

A LIFE

Smigly spins in the existential hamster wheel and we hope you aren’t. (If you are, see this.)

THE STIMULUS PACKAGE

Timely, in light of this week’s U.S. elections, a time when economic and political fluff phrases are being tossed around like giant balls of toxic cotton candy.

CELL BLOCK

So many phones, so little talking.

WHO OWNS YOU?

Somewhere between Big Brother, Uncle Sam and The Man, Smigly is on the brink of pushing daisies.

NOISE

If you happen to have a bit of a social media…problem (and we should know), you’ll no doubt reluctantly relate to this one.

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The Holstee Manifesto: Making The Life You Want To Live

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This morning, we celebrated a brilliant upcycling effort, but when it comes to upcycling and smart social responsibility, no one can out-smart, out-cool and out-inspire our friends at Holstee, who blend an ethos of sustainability with an honest and inspired approach to all of life.

We’re particularly enamored with The Holstee Manifesto – a poetic homage to the art of living your passion.

UPDATE: The Holstee Manifesto is now available in a wonderful 5×7 greeting card printed on handmade paper derived from 50% elephant poo and 50% recycled paper and a gorgeous letterpress print.

Show Holstee some love on Facebook, take a look at their original collection, and keep an eye on their fantastic ongoing Curated section.

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