Amanda Davis is a teacher, artist, writer, and innovator who uses her words and pictures to light up the world with kindness. After losing her father at the age of twelve, Amanda turned to art and writing as an outlet. It became her voice. A way to cope. A way to escape. And a way to tell her story. She was thus inspired to teach art and pursue her passion for writing and illustrating children’s books. Through her work, Amanda empowers younger generations to tell their own stories and offers children and adults an entryway into a world of discovery. A world that can help them make sense of themselves, others, and the community around them. A world where they can navigate, imagine, and feel inspired—over and over again.
When she’s not busy creating, you can find her sipping tea, petting dogs, and exploring the natural wonders of The Bay State with her partner and rescue pup, Cora.
What inspired you to write 30,000 Stitches?
I first learned about the story of the flag in September of 2011. I’m a high school art educator and was searching for a lesson I could do with students to teach them about the tenth remembrance of September 11, 2001. This year, while browsing through some magazines, I came across a blurb about a torn and tattered American flag that flew over Ground Zero in the days after 9/11 and later traveled across all fifty states to be fully restored touching many hearts and many hands along the way. Later, it returned to New York on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 as a symbol of hope and unity. I knew I found my lesson. That year, students learned about the flag, and we created our own patchwork flag in remembrance. Several years later, the story of the flag still lingered in my head, and I knew I needed to share it with more people. As a result 30,000 Stitches was born!
What was your research process for the book? Who were some of the people you met during that process?
I love to research! From the moment I decided I wanted to write this story, I knew I needed to dig deep and find out the facts to get the story right. This meant a lot of reading, a lot of Googling, and many conversations with people who were involved in the flag’s journey. I truly loved writing this story but speaking to the special people involved in bringing this flag back to life, was one of my favorite parts of the process. I connected with the Ground Zero Superintendent, Flag Tour Staff, and founder of the New York Says Thank You Foundation. I am honored to have spoken with such selfless, kind, and generous people whose dedication to helping America heal after 9/11 was inspiring. To this day, they continue to give back and be of service to others, which is truly exceptional.
Were you involved in selecting your illustrator? How do you think the art contributed to your story?
I feel extremely fortunate for the opportunity to work with such a collaborative team at WorthyKids and big thanks to my editor Peggy Schaefer, who kept me in the loop throughout the illustration process. I was over the moon to find out that Sally was selected as the illustrator. She was an immediate and enthusiastic YES from me. I am a huge fan of Sally’s work and feel her mixed media and collage style perfectly capture and mimic the torn, tattered nature of the flag. Her illustrations bring life and emotion to the text; expanding on the story in a way that words alone can’t do. Through her visuals, we can see the many hands and hearts the flag touched. Her illustrations also convey a beautiful and symbolic parallel between the healing of both the people and the flag. As the flag heals, the people do, too.
I wrote the story for children because it’s so powerful and can serve as an entry point for many important discussions. With that said, although 30,000 Stitcheswas written for children, it’s a story for ALL people; people of all ages, in all parts of the country, and all over the world. Because at its core, the story is about humanity and shared experiences.
What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
I hope that 30,000 Stitches inspires others. I hope it offers healing to all those in need. I hope it serves as a reminder that light can come from darkness; that we can rise from the shadows and overcome hard things if we unite and come together. We are resilient. We are strong. We are connected through our stories. Stories of suffering. Stories of loss. Stories of compassion. Stories of kindness. Our stories are stitched together. Our stories are the fabric of America.