Hitch A Ride On The Color Express
They say when God closes one door, he opens another. In author/illustrator Danielle Williams’s case, he opened a full-sized stained glass window. Williams’s children’s book, Hitch A Ride On The Color Express was released by Flying Ketchup Press in October, 2021 and may be purchased online at Target Stores, Barnes and Noble and more. Audio book coming soon!
In this book you'll meet Chuck, a creative but slightly messy little boy. He imagines his art becomes a real train to The Colorful Places. With his friends Lion, Hippo, and Giraffe, he discovers that colors are something more than what he ever dreamed, and that imagination can take us anywhere.
Williams has a BFA in Animation from the Massachusetts College of Art & Design. She has taught art as a Continuing Education instructor for the Kanas City Art Institute, and also taught art for private schools in both Massachusetts and Kansas. In 2016, she completed her Master’s in Teaching and Learning. Now she is writing books for the very young readers, with an emphasis on kinetic learning and imagination. View the first day of paper cutting in this video by producer, Alexis Webb Bechtold.
It all began while she was teaching kindergarten in Boston, Massachusetts. She encountered one particular student who was struggling to learn his colors.
“I had always wanted to write a children’s book, but I didn’t know what to write about. Then during my teaching years, I started to notice that the standard classroom curriculum for teaching to young children didn’t work for every kid. It sparked an idea for a book.Our classroom set-up for teaching colors completely failed one of my students...At that point, I knew what my book was going to be about and how to write it,” shared Williams.
The journey to creating the book took many years. She considered several styles. “I loved ‘Something Missing’ as a kid,” recalled Williams citing her favorite poem by Silverstein. She considered rhyme because of her strong influence by Dr. Seuss. "I loved Dr. Seuss growing up. Green Eggs and Ham was my favorite book. I can remember the day it was read to us in school like it was yesterday. I couldn’t wait to get to the library and check the book out to read it myself,” exclaimed Williams.
Williams continued working on her book in her spare time as a teacher and mother until that door started to close when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“I continued teaching during my first round of treatments and the cancer briefly went into remission. It was then that I really started to concentrate on my book. I had it completed, the writing, in a short amount of time,” shared Williams.
That’s when Williams talked to Polly McCann. "We had been friends for many years. It was 2015-16, and I was teaching secondary art classes at a private school." When Polly heard the work I had done on the book had been erased in a computer data loss, she wanted to help. With William's book and two others, McCann launched Flying Ketchup Press in North Kansas City.
“I was thrilled! We’d gone out for coffee, and sitting there at the table we talked about publishing the book,” said Williams." McCann convinced Williams they'd work on the illustrations together with Danielle as the designer-this time in cut paper-and with back up scans on the cloud, so the work couldn't be lost.
With faith, prayer, and the determination pushing her onward to finish and publish her book, Williams continued while undergoing cancer treatments. “I decided to work on the illustrations while I was working on fine tuning the writing with Polly. She taught me how to look at the writing through the eyes of the reader, and not just through my own,” explained Williams.
“Working with Polly in the studio, I cut out the paper illustrations. I had done that type of work in college, cutting out paper for animations. This time the illustrations had to be cut out and taped onto the paper, not an animation board. It turned out beautifully. It was difficult and very detail oriented, but it was a true artist’s work. Polly has a big heart, she was so supportive through the entire process,” said Williams.
The final rewriting was completed in April of 2021 and Williams book was ready to be published. At the same time, her doctors told Danielle that her cancer was back in remission. A dual celebration she completely cherished.
Although she no longer teaches, Williams homeschools her son. She enjoys journaling daily in the quiet hours of the morning.
“I’ve been very lucky and had very supportive people with me on this journey. My mother has always been my strongest supporter,” stated Williams, “My husband and son, too, have also always supported my writing.”
Hitch A Ride on the Color Express
Meet Chuck, a creative kid, stuck inside on a rainy day! His mom calls his art a mess, but with some paint and a box, he builds a train to visit The Colorful Places! Hitch a ride with Lion, Hippo, Giraffe, and Chuck on The Color Express to discover imagination can take us anywhere. More than a concept book, this hand-cut paper adventure created by classroom art teacher Danielle D. Williams will empower young children to explore the concept of color as a journey through the five senses.
Flying Ketchup Press ® founded in 2018 to champion new and diverse voices in short fiction and poetry. Our dream, to share worlds of wonder and delight.