Niles woman publishes first children’s book

Published 3:30 pm Monday, August 22, 2022

NILES — In a nutshell, writing a book was never on artist Allison Sumrall’s creative radar growing up.

All it took is for one idea to take root and grow into something real for the Niles native, who earlier this year published her first book, “The Little Acorn,” a children’s story about a small acorn “who couldn’t imagine ever being anything more.” 

Published under Sumrall’s illustration company, Animals That Talk, and fully funded by a Kickstarter campaign in 2020, Sumrall wrote and illustrated the book hoping to inspire her young son, Dylan. The process was also therapeutic for Sumrall, herself.

“It’s something I needed to hear as a woman in her 30s,” she said. “That things can happen for us, rather than to us… “The book itself kind of has a more serious-sweet message compared to the other works I do that are more ironic.”

A graduate of Niles High School, Sumrall earned degrees at both Kendall College of Art and Design and Coastal Carolina University. Four years ago, Sumrall moved back to Niles with her son and began drawing animal portraits based on her favorite television and film characters. IIt was then that Animals That Talk was created.

“I learned even if I could experience joy for only a snippet of time, that the lingering anxiety wouldn’t be able to co-exist in that very same moment,” Sumrall wrote on her website. “Animals That Talk was created to illicit joy when fear of my own felt unrelenting.”

Sumrall said she wrote The Little Acorn as a way to remind readers – especially children – that they can remain hopeful in spite of difficult circumstances. She hopes that children will learn about resiliency, gratitude, and using uncontrollable circumstances to grow.

“I don’t believe everything happens for a reason because I think it justifies bad behavior,” she said. “I do believe that good things can come out of some really dark situations. I love the idea of kids having that mindset in their tool kit. Even if they can’t see what good can come from this, just knowing that this situation will pass; we are not stuck in this moment. There is an underlying sense of hope. I’m really passionate about the message itself.”

Sumrall believes adults will appreciate the message and enjoy seeing the images with young readers and hopes that the book will spark conversations about the different seasons of life.

Sumrall has shared the book with friends, family and preschool classrooms and the feedback has been positive.

“One of my dearest friends is from Pittsburgh and he gave the book to someone dealing with addiction,” she said. “He gave the book to him and he cried. It was really heartwarming… Sometimes, it takes the 10th person to tell us something before it registers with us. You begin to think ‘I’m not stuck’, ‘this is alright’. I don’t think we can ever hear that too much. Kindness is not wasted. It’s been good feedback so far.”

While writing and illustrating a book was a lot of work, Sumrall enjoyed the process.

“It’s easy to get overwhelmed,” she said. “But to see a project through from start to finish and to have a hand in it is something I am truly grateful for.”

After attending school for interior design, Sumrall never imagined she would become a published author. Even so, she looks forward to writing more books to be shared with both parents and children.

“My biggest goal is to get this into as many little hands as possible,” she said. “I had books growing up that meant so much to me that I’ve been able to share with my son. The idea of this book being something that children turn to time and again in households is something I’d love to see.”

The Little Acorn can be purchased at