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Little Jack Thomson’s Magnificent Brain

is an uplifting picture book for 5-8 year olds about life and following one’s dreams.

Jack Thomson, a gifted young boy who dreams of flying rockets to Neptune and building trains between planets is unaware of how truly smart he is. Truth be told, he’s convinced he is stupid and slow because he can’t read and write like everyone else he knows. Jack’s mother, however, believes in him, and after one particularly awful day at school, shows him just how magnificent he really is.

Little Jack Thomson’s Magnificent Brain has been written and illustrated by Kelley Donner. All illustrations are linocut with watercolor and ink.


FYI, Jack has autism

The character Jack in Little Jack Thomson’s Magnificent Brain is autistic and dyslexic. Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurological condition that can cause one to become overwhelmed by sensation. Many children with autism find connecting socially with peers difficult and often withdraw into a world of their creation. I have intentionally not used the words “autistic” or “dyslexic” in the story because it is not central to Jack’s character but have used instead subtle references. For many parents of autistic children school is a constant struggle. Nevertheless, it is Jack’s brilliant ideas and his imagination who make him who he is, not his diagnosis. Jack’s mother believes in him and many parents will relate to her determination to show her child just how magnificent he really is in spite of all of the challenges that he faces day to day.

Unfortunately, there are very few children’s books on the market today with autistic characters and still many misconceptions about what it means to be autistic. Autism is not an illness, it is a different way of thinking and our world is better off because of the many wonderful contributions made by people with autism. If you would like to know more about autism, the National Autistic Society has a lot of valuable information and aims to increase understanding and awareness of Autism and ensure that people with autism live the lives they choose.

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Seeking Literary Representation!

I am currently looking for literary representation and support for my children’s books. I personally feel that we need to have more children’s books with characters with learning disabilities and autism. Therefore, I have written various stories with children who face different challenges and how they overcome them. Little Jack Thomson’s Magnificent Brain and Ball! Ball! Ball! have already been introduced here on this website. I also have many other characters who have stories they want to tell. Talk to my Nose, for example, is a story about an autistic girl named Susie Pickle who explains creative ways she reads emotions without having to look anyone in the eye.

If you are interested in learning more about my books, please contact me. I will gladly send you a copy of my manuscript and dummy. If you would like to pre-order a book or help support me in promoting more neurodiverse characters in children’s literature, please let me know by contacting me using the form below. I am also available on Twitter at @kelleydonner.

The Creative Process

My dummy is complete and I am currently illustrating possible pictures for Little Jack Thomson’s Magnificent Brain using a combination of linocuts and watercolor. Before I can paint, I need a print and before I can print, I need a drawing. The storyboard is the most creative place in illustration. It is where all of the words and pictures finally come together and become something meaningful. This is a picture of the beginning storyboard process and where Jack begins his journey.

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