PITTSFIELD — If you ask city-based children's book author Ty Allan Jackson about his latest project, he'll likely tell you it's "amazing."
That's because he and his associates used images of more than 100 local elementary school-aged children to create the cover and inside photo illustrations for the new double-sided book, "You Are Amazing/I Am Amazing." The book will be launched on Friday evening at Shire City Sanctuary as part of a celebration of the National Day of Learning and the start of summer.
"The concept is for it to be an affirmation or empowerment book, so instead of having kids look at illustrations, we thought, why not have them see themselves," said Jackson, founder of the publishing company, Big Head Books.
This latest project is Jackson's fourth book in the past four and a half years.
Through his partnership with Pittsfield Public Schools, Jackson put out an open call to families for students to participate. A total of 118 kids over four sessions were photographed by Eddie Taylor of Edify Photography in Pittsfield.
Jackson said every child who showed up to be photographed was used in the book. "We didn't want the stereotypical model kid," he said. "We also wanted to show them as the stars that they are."
The images then went to Jolene Bull of In Touch Printing in Pittsfield who designed the unique two-sided book. The faces of 91 unique and smiling kids appear on the covers.
Jackson said some kids are only on the cover, with others also appearing in the book. "But I think it's cool because how many kids can say they've been immortalized in a book? It's their book," he said.
The author said he was inspired by his own children — Aja, Ajayi and Alia — to write "You Are Amazing/I Am Amazing."
"In some ways, they're remarkably the same, and are a strong unit of kids, but they're also wonderfully unique," he said.
He said most parents will say their children are the most important things in their lives and that they love their kids unconditionally, "But so many parents are so consumed with being employees, and siblings and other roles in their lives that at times, we all fail to tell our kids how much we love them and how beautiful they are. This book is a tool to help parents tell their kids how amazing they are."
Jackson debuted the first prototype of the book to third-graders at another partner school, Sunland Park Academy in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He said he later heard from a teacher that the book ignited a long class dialogue about how some students weren't accustomed to hearing the words and phrases of praise printed in the book.
The author said that's why the second side of the book, "I Am Amazing," holds value, because children can read the affirmations to themselves.
"They need someone to tell them they are unique, amazing and special, whether they hear it or not," Jackson said.
If you go ...
What: "You Are Amazing/I Am Amazing" Book Launch Pizza Party.
When: 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday.
Where: Shire City Sanctuary, 40 Melville St., Pittsfield, next to the Pittsfield Boys' & Girls' Club.
Details: This free, public celebration will debut the book, celebrate the children featured in it, honor schools and the National Day of Learning. There will be face-painting, balloon art, a deejay and more.
Info: https://www.facebook.com/YOUAREAMAZINGIAMAMAZING or call 413-443-0769