Book signing for ‘The Christmas Donkey’ Nov. 19

Published 3:01 pm Sunday, November 6, 2011

The cover of “The Christmas Donkey,” by Donna Thornton, with illustrations by Lynne Ballenger Pryor. (photo by Robin Edgar)

The Book Shelf in Tryon will host an author book signing on Nov. 19 for “The Christmas Donkey,” with local author Donna Thornton.
Although “The Christmas Donkey” is a children’s book, its message – to be comfortable with the unique person that you are – is for children and adults alike.
“I also hope that it will remind us of the simple message of the Christmas story during the busy holiday season,” said Thornton.
Although she works as an accountant, Thornton has written news articles and kept a journal over the years. Her interest in writing was nurtured as a teenager when her Upstate South Carolina high school English teacher, Ann Dobbs, helped her put her thoughts down on paper, primarily through essays.
After graduating from Clemson University, she moved to Jacksonville, Fla., and obtained her master’s degree in business administration from the University of North Florida.
“I also thank my mother for stressing the importance of education and for supporting me all the way,” said Thornton, adding, “To be a good writer, one must first read good literature.”
As a child, the author was influenced most by the children’s stories written by Laura Ingles Wilder, E.B. White and Roald Dahl. She said she enjoys children’s books because they can reach both adults and children with a powerful message in a relatively short period of time.

When her now teenaged sons, Robert and Stephen, were young, she read the classics, such as “The Tales of Narnia,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Velveteen Rabbit,” “James and the Giant Peach” and “The Cricket in Times Square” to them as a part of the family’s daily bedtime ritual.
“Spending time reading to children is one of the best ways to develop relationships with them,’ said Thornton. “Developing rituals of reading with your children shows them you care for them because they have your undivided attention.”
Thornton and her husband, Larry, of 23 years moved back to Inman, S.C., 13 years ago.
Knowing her mother, Joyce Davis, loved animals, Thornton originally wrote “The Christmas Donkey” as a Mother’s Day gift to her after a new baby donkey was born on her mother’s farm earlier that spring. She never intended to publish the story as a book, but her mother was so touched by the gift, she started sharing it with her friends.
“So many people read the story and encouraged me to publish it, so I commissioned Lynne Ballenger Pryor, a professional artist from the Duncan [S.C.] area, to do the artwork and Ambassador International, in Greenville, which primarily publishes Christian literature, published it,” said Thornton.
Thornton’s mother became her agent extraordinaire, coordinating book signings and promoting the book in the community. Essentially, Thornton said what started out as a simple Mother’s Day gift was given back to her by her mother many times over.
Thornton advises aspiring writers to use simple events that happen all around them for their story lines, saying, “Look for things that others do to touch your emotions. What touches you just might, if you can get it in written form, touch others.”
In addition to the book signing on Nov. 19 at noon, The Book Shelf hosts several local author signings throughout the year. Most recent events include: “Touring the Western North Carolina Backroads,” by Carolyn Sakowski; “The Strange Case of The Doyle Diary Murders,” by Corinne F. Gerwe; and “A Passel of Hate,” by Joe Epley.
Alivia Rochester, The Tryon Book Shelf manager, points out that, in addition to supporting the local economy, local author book signings benefit the community in many ways.
“People not only get to meet successful local authors, they also hear about the inspirations behind their books, and get tips for publishing their own books,” Rochester said.
Visit the events page at to learn more about past and future book signings at The Book Shelf.

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