DSAW had a chance to sit down author Courtney Kotlowski and artist Natalie Sorrentino (aka Gnat & Corky), who interview real kids and create stories that capture their spirits. They talked with Addison and her brother Asher, who has Down syndrome, and realized that their story needed to be told! Addison the Light Catcher is a story about love, admiration, and the special bond between siblings. It sheds light on the power of advocacy and the magic inside everyone. Read on to check out our interview with Gnat and Corky!
How did your book series come about?
It started as a blog where children could answer Gnat & Corky’s questions. We would create a story and watercolor illustration based on the spirit of the kids. The response was overwhelming and the stories are so universal that we thought a book series would be something special to share. This has been a nearly 3-year process and we are so happy to be published by Orange Hat Publishing in Waukesha.
What is Addison the Light Catcher about?
It’s a story about love, advocacy and the special bond between siblings. Addison is her brother Asher’s biggest fan and advocate. She is a “light catcher” for all children with Down syndrome and special needs. The story is a fictional one about Addison’s “super-duper light catcher” that she made when her brother was born to share his light with the world. She tries to capture his light, but the light is scared, nervous and shy. The light eventually surrenders and she throws it up into the sky where it becomes a star/light for all the world to see and love.
What do you want people to take away from reading Addison the Light Catcher?
That there is light inside of everyone. That it should be found, shared and honored. We are all light catchers for each other in this world.
Define Light Catcher:
A person who sees the beauty, joy, potential and light in others and shares it with the world.
What age(s) are your books targeted for?
All people of all ages. Really they are universal stories that are meant to be read to the little ones, treasured by the older ones and shared and spread by the oldest. Our books transcend age.
How do you come up with the stories?
They come from interviewing the kids and letting their spirit shine. I never want to place the story on the child, I want it to come to me in the middle of the night when something they said ignites a universal message that needs to be shared. Each story is built from the soul of the child.
What is your process?
Children submit their answers at www.gnatandcorky.comwe read all submissions and then Courtney interviews the child. Once the story is drafted, Courtney hands it over to Natalie who paints a watercolor illustration. Our books are a much longer process because each story is now multiple pages with multiple illustrations. It’s literally soul work and sometimes the magic is there and sometimes you have to wait for it to spark up again.
How do you work so collaboratively together?
We have a very respectful and playful relationship. We are connected on another level. There is complete trust and awe on both sides. We don’t question each other’s talent- we embrace and honor it and from that we have created literally hundreds of pieces! We are constantly creating things. We are both living/doing our passion and it’s just a joy to see it come together and have people respond as they have. We also laugh a lot and talk nearly every day.
What are some of the other things Gnat and Corky have in store?
We have a Gnat & Corky Snippet book that is full of feel good sayings, poems, quips, and advice and The Answer Book that is a collection of all the answers from the submissions we’ve gotten over the years.
What is the message you are trying to spread/send with The Gnat & Corky Series?
Empathy, joy and acceptance. Everyone has a story. We all have a spirit and a purpose for being here. Our hope is that this collection, when put together, starts to paint a story of how similar our differences can make us when we’re all tied together. We hope people treasure these books forever.
What are some of the other titles/books and what subjects do they cover?
The first four are Addison the Light Catcher, Ken the Keeper, Will It, and From Malena with Love
Ken the Keeper comes from the spirit of a boy who started a no-kill animal shelter in the Philippines. This story is about tending and caring for the helpless and brining compassion forward to help all living things thrive.
Will It is a story about living life to the fullest, without fear or regret- William, is a teenage who is nearly blind, but that doesn’t stop him from doing anything. The message is be brave and try, which is the spirit that Will exudes.
From Malena with Love is a story about brining color back into the world after it goes gray- it asks the reader how they would bring love back if it went away- Malena decides to write love notes to everything in the world and by doing so, the color starts to come back. Malena is Natalie’s daughter and her interview was all about love and color and brining joy to people’s lives. Her spirit is loving and joyful.
How can kids submit their answers to Gnat & Corky’s questions?
Visit www.gnatandcorky.comand answers our questions.
Where can fans/readers find you?
You can follow us on Facebook and Instagram @gnatandcorky or contact Orange Hat Publishing to schedule a visit or reading at www.orangehatpublishing.com