Children’s author Dianna Hutts Aston has a tattoo on her left wrist of a heart with wings and above it the words “epiphania” — what her friends in Mexico call her.
Aston earned that nickname because her writing is inspired by epiphanies she has “for things we all know or things that are hidden in plain sight,” she said.
For example, one of her books is “An Egg is Quiet.” This phrase was first spoken by a 3 year old, Dusty Dunn, who was asked one day in Montessori School to tell the class something about an egg.
“An egg is quiet,” was his reply.
Aston’s mother, Candy Shelts, was amused by the boy’s keen observation and relayed the incident to Aston.
One day Aston was picking up eggshells while holding her daughter Lizzie and the memory came back to her and the book “An Egg is Quiet” was the result.
“So, it is because of my mom that these books are going all over the world … to restore the earth,” Aston said. “I can’t take the credit. I’m just the hand.”
One of her favorite literary awards was given by the American Academy for the Advancement of Science/Subaru Award for her book “An Egg is Quiet.”
“This was my first breakout book on what they began to call lyrical science,” Aston said. “… I didn’t even know I was writing science books until AAAS called and said, ‘you won. Let’s do a podcast and come to San Francisco and get your award.’”
Some of her other titles are: “A Seed is Sleepy,” “A Butterfly is Patient,” “A Beetle is Shy,” “A Nest is Noisy” and “A Rock is Lively.”
A friend of hers came up with the description of a rock as “lively.”
The book is “about the evolution of rocks. It tells the whole story,” she said “That’s why a rock is lively — it starts out liquid.”
Among her 15 books, “Not So Tall for Six,” was the result of a conversation with a 6-year-old about her height. In the book a girl is bullied but by following her family’s motto — takes the high road.
The favorite book she has authored is “Dream Something Big” about the story of Watts Towers about an Italian immigrant’s dream to ‘do something big.’ Simon Rodia, known as ‘Uncle Sam’ began with something tiny—a single chip of tile that he found on the street, which became the first building block to an astonishing feat of architecture and a national landmark in Watts, Calif. Aston describes him on her website as “a visionary, a pioneer in the art of recycling, reusing and re-purposing found objects. He dug through trash piles for things people no longer wanted or overlooked: broken teapots and plates. Shattered bottles and mirrors. Rocks and shells. On the backs of ice cream parlor chairs he saw hearts. In water spigots he saw flowers.”
Rodia’s story is told from the perspective of a girl named Marguerite.
Aston said she hopes through her books she is able to improve the lives of young people, especially those who have disabilities or other life challenges, and teach them how to be good stewards of the earth. Aston began writing in 1996, and a few years later said a prayer to have a meaningful life.
“That’s when things started happening,” she said.
Aston sent a manuscript to a publisher with a no unsolicited manuscript policy and got published. That book was “When You Were Born” with illustrations by E.B. Lewis. The illustrations took longer since the artist the publisher chose, E.B. Lewis, was in high demand, and so another book, “Loony Little” was actually published first. “Loony Little” about the polar ice caps, will be re-released next year on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.
“It’s completely updated with information on the back and activities,” Aston said.
Aston’s book, “The Moon Over Star” about the first manned mission to the moon, gained recognition when it was read to children, first by President Barack Obama, and then a NASA astronaut.